Marching to glory

WW-P High School South band takes top competition awards

By Greg Forester, Staff Writer
   The West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South Pirate Marching Band is winning top awards at competitions this fall and is preparing to compete at another major event on Friday.
   The band won the United States Scholastic Band Association New Jersey State Championship in the Group II open division held on Saturday at Washington Township High School in Sewell, for the first time since 2005.
   ”Our effort is all about just finding the enjoyment in performing music and dance,” said Band Director Scott Collins. “That’s what really drives us, and for us it’s a bonus when we receive the kind of recognition we received this Saturday.”
   The “open” class is reserved for bands that compete at the highest level and it includes the best bands in New Jersey.
   At the weekend competition, the Pirates won awards for best effect, best percussion, best color guard and best visual.
   The Pirates also won first place overall in the Group II open class of the USSBA Central New Jersey Regional Championship at The College of New Jersey on Oct. 21.
   Awards were also won for best music, best effect, best percussion and best color guard.
   The Pirates also won first place overall at two other competitions this fall.
   The 48-member band will compete at the USSBA Northern States Championship at Giants Stadium on Friday, where 11 bands will be competing.
   And for the second consecutive year, the band has been invited to compete at the prestigious USSBA National Championship, to be held at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Nov. 16.
   The Pirates will be competing against 10 other bands within its group, and a total of around 40 to 50 bands will be in Baltimore for the event.
   This year’s show is entitled “Windows,” featuring arrangements of music by David Gillingham. The band’s drill is written by Mark Fisher, with music arrangements by Mike Davis. Jason Price serves as assistant director and percussion instructor.
   The band is under the direction of Mr. Collins, and under the field direction of Joshua Suslak, drum major. Joshua is a senior at South.
   Mr. Collins credited the support of school administrators and the commitments of parents to the continued success of the High School South’s marching band.
   He said parents find participation beneficial to the relationship they have with their high school-age children.
   ”I heard that one parent recommended participating in marching band because she felt she could stay really connected to her daughter through the four years of high school,” Mr. Collins said.
   He said the new artificial turf field at High School South has been a pleasure to work on, with none of the problems of the old grass field the band used prior to the 2007-2008 school year.
   ”There’s a difference in the evenness in the field,” said Mr. Collins. “There are no unexpected holes or ruts you can step in and its much safer. After it rains, the field drains and dries very quickly.”
   For more information, including the band’s complete schedule, visit