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Sunnyvale Marching Invitational (SMI) Competition

Vienne Howay and Abigail Chand

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The fifth annual Sunnyvale Marching Invitational, also referred to as SMI, was held on Saturday, October 7th, 2017 at the Sunnyvale High School Stadium. Many bands were invited, including Kaufman High School, Palmer High School, and Farmersville High School.

The competition was held and run by Sunnyvale ISD who invited the esteemed Rob Toups, retired director of bands at Canton ISD; Danny Prado, retired director of bands at Grapevine Colleyville ISD and HEB ISD; Elmer Schenk, retired band director at both Howe and Princeton ISD; Dr. Lonnie Benolt, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies at McNeese State University, LA; and Sunnyvale’s own Loreal Riker, Guard Adjudicator for the DCI Blue Devils, North Garland HS, Texas A&M Commerce, and Sunnyvale ISD, BOA Finalist; to judge the contest.

“As a judge’s assistant in the press box, I can confidently say my favorite part about our competition is being able to see the bands as a judge sees them,” sophomore, Paige Sanders said.“Hearing the comments, interacting with the judges themselves, and seeing the process firsthand really does give you a whole new mindset about competition.”

Our own Sunnyvale Raider Pride Marching Band did not compete in the competition, but they did delight in getting to be the highlight of the night when they and the Tyler Junior College each showcased their amazing performances.

“We come together to pull off an awesome competition for other schools. It puts all our hard work into action,” senior, Kilee Collins said. “Plus, we’re the exhibition group and performing for the other bands is always the highlight!”

The Sunnyvale Raider Pride Marching Band enjoyed every aspect of the competition. Although they were not actually competing, they loved helping out behind the scenes.

It isn’t often that I get to be around so many other people with a passion for music and marching,” sophomore, Daniel Segundo said. “I enjoy SMI because I get to be part of the team that runs the competition. There’s something special about getting to be “behind the scenes”.

Everyone came together to help out at the competition, even the booster club contributed.  

“I think the thing that really sets us apart from other marching invitationals is our Booster parents,” senior and Head Drum Major, Elise Norlee said. “They provide directors and judges with the most amazing hospitality and STILL have time to take care of our members working the contest. Our Booster Club really makes everything the band does possible by volunteering their own time every single day.”

Color guard also had an amazing night watching all of the other school’s color guards perform and having the opportunity to show off their own skills.

“It was a great experience getting to witness the hard work put in by the other schools guards,” junior and color guard captain, Garrett Gonyaw said.  “Color guard is a visual activity which is difficult especially when there is wind and sun in your face. It was really cool watching them push through even with all of the challenges.”

The competition came to an end with Naamon Forest High School’s Ranger Band coming in first place, Denison High School’s Touch of Gold Band placing second, and Mineola High School’s Sound of the Swarm Band coming in third.

Overall, the fifth annual Sunnyvale Marching Invitational competition was a major success for everyone involved.

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Sunnyvale Marching Invitational (SMI) Competition