This article originally appeared in the November 11, 2019 edition of the Standard Times. To read the original article, please click here.
It was a perfect night.
The Dartmouth High School Marching Band won its fourth consecutive national championships in the U.S. Band Association’s Open Group V competition Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
They tied for the highest score ever recorded by any band in the circuit with a score of 98.575, set in 2008.
And they did it at their band director, Bill Kingsland’s, final show as he is retiring in June.
Russ Benoit, president of Dartmouth School Music Association, the band’s support group, was at the championships and said there were some anxious moments until the final scores were read. They knew Dartmouth did well. They didn’t know how well.
Southington, Ct., High School came in second with a score of 95.375; followed by Passaic, N.J., High School, 95.175; and Trumbull, Ct., High School, 95.150, according to the Youth Education in the Arts website.
“When they announced the second place winners, we knew the kids had won,” Benoit said. “When they said, 98 (DHS’s final score of 98.575), we were completely blown away with how high the score was.”
Benoit’s son Jacob, an eighth grader, is in band’s drum line. His daughter was in the band and is now going to college.
“It’s such an honor to see it. We know how hard they work,” he said. “It was such a wonderful evening.”
Dartmouth parents poured out of the stands and hugged and celebrated with their children, he said. Later, they carried the huge trophy to bus.
“It was truly an amazing sight,” he said.
The fact that it was Kingsland’s last show was on on everyone’s mind, Benoit said. “They wanted to win it for ‘BK.’ (Kingsland’s nickname). They wanted to do it for him,” Benoit said.
“They wanted to show him how much love and respect they have for him by putting on the best show possible.”
The name of this year’s show was “The Witching Hour,” he said.
The band and color guard enjoyed some rest and relaxation Sunday and received a hero’s welcome with an escort by the police and fire departments with sirens blaring from Interstate 195 where they met the buses to Dartmouth High School.
On Monday, they marched in New Bedford’s Veterans Day Parade.
“That will be the last one for me,” Kingsland said of the U.S. Bands competition when he spoke with a reporter outside New Bedford’s main library following Monday’s parade. “It was good, really good. Good for the kids, good for the town.”
The band had to fight through the cold Saturday night on the field of MetLife Stadium and remain focused on their music and routines, he said. He offered special thanks to Tom Aungst, Mike Rayner, Tyler Kingsland, his son, and Addison Kaeterle, for their help this year.