Playing in the Band

by | Nov 2, 2022 | Education, Kids, Online Exclusives

Pirate Classic celebrates 10 years of competition at Topsail High School.

Band music lovers went to watch 15 hard-working, high-stepping high school bands compete at the 10th annual Pirate Classic on October 15 at Topsail High School.

Attendees were treated to performances by the Pride of the Niner Nation marching band from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and the 2D Marine Band from Camp Lejeune.

“We had 15 high school bands competing in this North Carolina Band Master’s Association state sanctioned event,” says Topsail High School Director of Bands Jake Wentzek. “This means the judging followed a specific criteria sent to us by the state governing board for bands.”

Each band performed once. Judging was based on that performance in a category, called a caption. The captions included: Drum Major, Color Guard, Percussion, Visual Ensemble, Music Effect, Music Performance, Visual Performance, General Effect and Visual Effects.

Bands took this critique and listened to it as a group, he says, then selected parts of their show to work on and continue to improve throughout the month of October.

Last year Topsail High School Marching Band was the overall runner-up and received numerous awards in every caption. It consistently places within the top ten percent. Topsail High School Band also competed at Northside High School on October 1, West Johnston High School on October 8 and Havelock High School on October 29.

In addition to travelling for competitions, the band marched at Walt Disney World last year in the 50th anniversary celebration parade and also marched in Chicago’s 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Topsail High School Marching Band

“The Pirate Classic provides the opportunity for our students to experience the ins and outs of a competition firsthand,” Wentzek says. “Additionally, it provides an opportunity for the community get involved with their local band.”

The Pirates performed their fall production Woven. Music includes: “Poison” by Alice Cooper; “Wallflower” (Ballad) by Peter Gabriel; “Spiderman – Homecoming” by Benjamin Squires; and “Inside the Web” by Frank Sullivan.

“I’ve been to seven competitions, including two of our own, and I have loved every moment of them,” says Drum Major Thomas Papke, who conducts the band’s performances. “Competitions bring bands from all around the region to compete and see what band is the best, but that’s not the main reason we go. We go to meet people like us, to make new friends with the same passion and to perform for people who love to watch.”

Papke says he loves talking to kids who are on the fence about learning an instrument.
“I think music and band are the best things you can do while you are in school,” he says.

Trumpet section leader Logan Schott, a veteran of eight competitions, says, “Marching band has defined my high school career and has given me unforgettable experiences. So, to anyone considering joining a band, please do it, I promise you won’t regret it.”

The 15 bands in the competition represented several local schools including Southwest Onslow, Dixon High School, Northside High School and Richlands High School.

The Saturday event was the band’s largest fundraiser of the year and contributes nearly one-half of its annual budget. Numerous local vendors were be in attendance. Food was available and ranged from hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and Chick Fil-A to funnel cakes and Italian ice.

The event was sponsored by the Topsail High School Music Boosters, the volunteer parent organization.

About the author

Kate Carey

Kate Carey

A former Ohioan and Buckeyes football fan, Kate M Carey has her toes firmly placed in the sands of Topsail Island. Kate writes fiction about people and the strange things they do for love and essays on the politics of everyday life. Her work has appeared in Noctua, Indiana Voice, The Tishman Review, Panoply, Camel City Digest, Savannah Writers Anthology, and County Line Journal. A guest columnist for Women AdvaNCe, she and her husband, an Episcopal priest, moved to North Carolina in 2015 and have adult children living in Ohio and Florida.