by George Growcott.
Photos by Andreina Erwin
On Nov. 6 at 11:10 a.m., the Spring-Ford Golden Ram Band showed the other members of the Tournament of Bands just what this year's production of “The Art of War” is all about. The 112-member band under the direction of John E. Eckstine, Jr. set foot on the turf of Hershey Stadium and proved to all present what hard work, dedication and pride in what you are working to achieve can get you in return.
Being awarded the highest score this year, the band came home with the fifth Tournament of Bands Group 4 (bands with 75 or more musicians) Atlantic Coast Championship in the last six years. The band received a score of 97.25 out of a possible 100, which makes it one of four bands to be rated as a Gold Level out of the 14 bands in this years grand championship.
The band came home with special awards for High Visual (marching performance and design), High Music (for performance and design), High Brass Award and the first-ever High Color Guard Award at the ACC Championship event. Second Place went to Cumberland Valley High School from Mechanicsburg with a score of 96.35. Third Place was Wilson High School of West Lawn with a 94.60. Fourth was Pennsbury High School from Fairless Hills with a 94. And fifth place was Avon Grove from West Grove with a score of 92.20. Other bands for Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey were also represented at this years TOB Atlantic Coast Championship in the Group 4 Division.
This achievement at the 39th Tournament of Bands, Atlantic Coast Championship marks yet another staple for the Spring-Ford Area School District, but also a place in the Tournament of Bands history books! The Golden Ram Marching Band is only the third Group 4 band in the history of the association to ever win five grand championships.
In the 39-year history of the Tournament of Bands, the Spring-Ford Golden Rams are the only band from the SE-PA Region to ever win five ACC grand championships. This year's band, with 45 first-year members proved to all present in Hershey on Sunday that when in comes to “Excellence and Achievement” in marching band performance that Spring-Ford truly knows how to lead the way!
The achievements of the Spring-Ford High School marching band under the direction of Eckstine, the design team and staff’s ability to provide the students with musical productions year in and year out that others only dream to provide to their students has made Spring-Ford the marvel of many! Eckstine is in his 12th year as the director of the high school band, which has risen from the first year of not qualifying for the TOB ACC Championshipsto what you see today.
The band has also won the Cavalcade of Bands “Yankee Class” (largest size bands division) Championship from 2008 through 2010, which are the only three years that the band had taken part in the Cavalcade of Bands since Eckstine has been at Spring-Ford.
However, the Spring-Ford band’s year is not over yet! After performing at the football game at home against Perkionmen Valley, supporting the team to another exciting then going to Hershey to bring home the TOB Atlantic Coast Championship, the Golden Ram Band has a lot more exciting events coming up over the next several weeks.
This Friday/Saturday, the Spring-Ford Band will be busy at the football team's District One first round playoff game while also preparing for the next big event.
On Nov. 17, they will be representing the Spring-Ford School District in Chicago, and on Nov. 19, they will be in the “Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights Parade” which kicks off the Christmas season for the Windy City!
The band received an invitation to this event last year after receiving superior reviews by the producers of the West Chester Holiday Parade where they were selected the Grand Champions out of over 12 other bands, as well as their performance in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade the last two years.
While traveling, the members of the band will be touring the Museum of Science and Industry, the Millennium Park, dining on an evening dinner cruise before heading home and making a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Ohio.
The band will be arriving home Monday evening in time to get some rest for the Thanksgiving Day football game against Phoenixville High School. They will be performing their last performance of “The Art of War” for everyone at the game before going home to enjoy Turkey Day dinner!