October 10, 2023
Athens Drive Marching Band Earns First Place In West Craven Competition
The Athens Drive High School Marching Band took five first-place awards, including best overall in its division, in the 30th Annual West Craven Band Classic in Vanceboro Saturday night.
The best-in-category win continues a streak of 27 years in a row (excluding the pandemic year) that the Pride of the Drive has captured at least one first-place-in-class trophy.
The competition was the first of five in which the Athens Drive Marching Band will perform this year. The show, titled Be Musical!, takes the spectators through a journey of music from The Sound of Music, Hair!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera.
Athens Drive drum major Katie Ketcham and assistant drum major Ari Casanova took overall top scores among 13 other school bands in the Best Drum Major category. The Athens Drive color guard, led by section leader Collette Armstrong, won first place in the Visual Ensemble category while the school’s percussion section, led by section leader Jonah Higdon, had the best overall Percussion score.
In addition to the Best Overall award in the 3-A classification, the entire Athens Drive Band won first place in the General Effect category. The drum majors, the section leaders, Brass Captain Laura Kell, and Woodwind Captain Grace Richardson accepted the top awards on behalf of the 80-person band.
The trophies were especially satisfying considering that the band is still growing its numbers after having as many as 160 members prior to the pandemic. Nearly 40 percent of this year’s band are first-year members.
Dr. Jerry “Doc” Markoch, now in his 30th year as band director at Athens Drive High School, said that the 3-A competition was especially tough with perennially strong bands New Bern and Northside (Jacksonville) taking second and third place respectively.
The Athens Drive Marching Band, which has placed no lower than second in any competition category over the past three seasons, travels to the Clinton High School Band Day competition, which boasts a 16-band field, Saturday, Oct. 7.