River Hill High School's marching band earned the title of national champion in Group III at the second annual U.S. Scholastic Band Association National Championships on Saturday at M&T; Bank Stadium.
Competing with 14 other bands based on school size, the Clarksville school finished with a score of 95.55 (out of 100). It also won awards for best visual performance and best music performance. River Hill placed second in best overall effect, third in best color guard and fifth in best percussion.
Under the direction of M. Joseph Fischer, River Hill was undefeated in seven competitions this season and ranked in the top 25 of bands in the USSBA.
"It has been a vision since I arrived five years ago to create a program that is competitive at a national level," Fischer said. "The students have worked very, very hard and dedicated themselves to working at the highest possible level."
River Hill's marching band has 60 members. They began the season with a two-week band camp before school opened, and held practices three times a week when the school year began.
Fischer said that while winning a national title is exciting, his focus has been on "reaching our potential as a music program."
He added: "This certainly has been the most successful year I've had as a band director. A lot of things have fallen into place allowing us to achieve this. It's pretty incredible."
Three other Howard County high schools participated. Reservoir placed fourth in Group IV, Atholton finished 11th in Group III, and Centennial placed 15th in Group IV.