Marching Owls, color guard prepare for marching season


“Come together, right now…” while wearing masks.

The Beatles’ 1969 hit “Come Together” is among the tunes that will be played by the Seymour High School Marching Owls during halftime of football games this fall.

This season, however, will be like no other in the world of social distancing, being quarantined and wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director Kevin Cottrill said he had been waiting years for a really good arrangement of The Beatles’ song and was ecstatic when he recently came across it.

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With the pandemic still going on, he wanted an upbeat tune for the band’s opener.

“I love Beatles music anyway, but that just makes the perfect opener to the show and the positivity that surrounds that tune that (John) Lennon wrote,” Cottrill said.

It’s part of the “After Quarantine” theme for the Marching Owls’ shows this fall at Bulleit Stadium.

Other songs are “Say Amen” by Panic! at the Disco, “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crowes and “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra.

“We’re ready to restart. I think most people in the world are ready to get over what we’ve been (through),” Cottrill said. “A lot of people have been sheltering in place. Most people are doing what they are supposed to do. I think people are ready to get out, so we just wanted to pick a positive theme that would help unite people.”

This year’s band and color guard feature nearly 240 students.

A big difference this year was no introduction to marching classes for the newcomers in June since schools had been closed since mid-March because of the pandemic.

“We had zero planning and preparation with our newest members, and we usually have about 12 to 16 hours with our young people,” Cottrill said.

He gave them music to learn at home, but it’s hard to learn to march on their own.

By the time band camp arrived at the end of July, though, Cottrill was impressed with the students.

“The kids have done a fantastic job,” he said. “That goes to the kind of kids we work with, their intelligence and their support at home.”

Senior drum major Gavyn Stagnolia praised the newcomers, too, describing their performance during band camp as “super impressive.”

“I just think the freshmen adapted so well and learned how to march instantly, and it just makes me wonder ‘Do we need to take so much time like we are used to doing?'” he said. “Also, it just proves how adaptable people really are and how easily they can learn new things, for sure.”

Other new elements of band camp were wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. Cottrill said most students prescreened at home, and if they had a temperature above 100.4 or had any of the virus symptoms, they had to stay home.

“The kids are doing a wonderful job masking,” he said during the final day of band camp. “I think it’s really hard for young people to separate 6 feet when people just want to be together, so that’s going to be a tremendous challenge I think we’re going to have to really take a serious look at.”

Band and some sports rolled out in July for the first time since the pandemic started.

“I’m so happy to be with live students again,” Cottrill said. “This can be done with the athletics, and the band it can be done with kids as long as they are doing what they are supposed to do.”

Senior drum major William Rodenbeck was glad to see everyone adjust to wearing masks and social distancing.

“At first, it was a little bit strange having to be far away from everybody and having to have a mask on, but as the week went on, I feel like we were just able to adapt really well to it,” he said. “I feel like band kids are just good at adapting to what they have to do. They came together really well.”

Junior drum major Will Cottrill agreed.

“It just shows that we’re still here, that we can still come here no matter what the times are like. I feel like it’s kind of like a point of emphasis that such a big group can come together during a week and show that it’s not as difficult as it seems,” he said.

“And we can still have plenty of fun even though we’re distanced from each other,” Stagnolia added.

The weeklong camp also was an opportunity for the band to continue to work on its music.

“I think it’s very diverse,” Stagnolia said of the selection. “There are a lot of different kinds of music represented in the show. There’s definitely something for everyone.”

He said the songs allow the band to showcase its abilities.

“I think the music is perfectly fit for what we are able to do and what the crowd expects of us, what they are used to,” Stagnolia said. “I think some of our music is a little bit difficult this year, but I think that’s going to end up being really good for us.”

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The Seymour High School Marching Owls and color guard will perform at home football games Aug. 21 and 28, Sept. 4 and 11 and Oct. 2.

The band is directed by Kevin Cottrill. The assistant directors are Debbie Carroll and Kyle Lutes. The drum majors are seniors Ellie Cornn, William Rodenbeck and Gavyn Stagnolia and junior Will Cottrill. The color guard instructors are Steve Nauman and Lacey Money. The drill writer is Tony Franklin.


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