The path ran from friendship to amiable competition to victory Saturday night as two Carroll County teens brought home both of the Chapter 13 band competition scholarships.
Becky Jones of North Carroll High School and Julie Hart of South Carroll High each received a $300 scholarship during the Hagerstown competition that attracted high school bands from Western Maryland and West Virginia.
The two have been friends since Julie's mother ran the Christian education programs at St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church in Manchester, Becky said.
"We've been good friends for a long time," Julie said. "I'm really glad we both got it."
To apply for the scholarship, each had to fill out an application, get a recommendation from a band director and write a 100-word essay on how marching band had affected her life.
For Julie, who plans to pursue a career in music education or music therapy, the marching band has shown her how to be an effective leader, she said.
"It has shown me the advantage of positive influences as opposed to criticism," said the drum major for the Panther Marching Band. "It's fun to inspire others, especially the freshmen when they grasp what marching band is all about."
A musician since she started piano lessons in the second grade, Julie said she's glad she eventually switched to the clarinet in the fourth grade. The North Carroll High senior said she also flirted with playing the violin and the flute.
"[The clarinet's] a lot of fun," she said. "You can't march with a violin, and with the flute there's so much competition. There's just so many flute players all over the place."
Becky's essay focused on how the marching band had given her an opportunity to work with others in pursuit of a common goal, she said.
"I've learned to persevere in life in general through the challenges I've had in marching band," said the South Carroll High senior, who plays oboe in the school's concert band and trumpet and alto sax in the marching band.
Next year, she'll leave her position as captain of the Cavalier Marching Band to pursue a music education major at West Virginia University in Morgantown. But it won't be the first time she's introduced youngsters to the love of music.
"I've been teaching private lessons for about a year," Becky said. "I know one elementary teacher in the area, and he's been having me come in after school for a couple of years to help the students."
The teacher then asked Becky if she'd take on a regular student, and the rest came as referrals over the summer, she said.
"I enjoy working with the younger children in music and like to help them with the challenge," Becky said. "When they finally achieve it, that's the reward to me."
Also Saturday in Hagerstown, both Liberty High and South Carroll High won the right to compete in the Atlantic Coast competition in Scranton, Pa., next weekend with 100 bands from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland.
Brian Eber, director of the Liberty Lions, said the band "turned in one of our best performances of the year."
The Lions received a score of 92.3, the highest in Group III. The
musicians also scored best music and best percussion awards.
"We knew our score was high enough to go to Scranton," he said.
Liberty has a winning tradition. At last year's championship, the school placed sixth overall among the 25 bands competing in its group.
The Lions will take the field at 7:15 p.m. Sunday, following the South Carroll Cavaliers, who are scheduled to perform at 7 p.m.
"It's so great that two county schools, in such close proximity, will compete back to back," said Brad Collins, South Carroll director. "It's a real credit to the music program in Carroll County."
The Cavaliers, who scored 91.9 Saturday and took second in Group III, received an invitation to the competition yesterday.
"That score was the best we have ever achieved at our school," he said. "You can tell the kids a million times but when they see the results, it's so great."
Mr. Collins said he wanted to thank past and present students for the achievement. "Former students opened a lot of doors for us," he said. "This is an easy group to teach. They are fTC self-motivated and know what has to be done."
Meanwhile, North Carroll High scored 84.45 overall and placed eighth out of eight bands in Group III. Westminster High scored 87.85, placing fourth in Group IV, and Francis Scott Key received 78.3 points and placed fifth out of six bands in Group II.
"Considering our size, we did pretty well," said Dennis Davis, FSK's band director. "[78.3 points] is the highest score they've earned in all of my [five] years here.
"I'm very proud of my group; they're hard-working and they've made lots of improvements. They've done lots of things that they can be proud of."