If participating in a marching band seems effortless, think again.
"Now that I'm part of the high school marching band, I realize just how much effort it takes to make [one]," said Stephanie Wheeler, who turns 17 today.
The Orchard Park teen, a drum major in the Orchard Park High School marching band, has been chosen to perform -- along with bandmate Erik Schuster -- at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January.
"So much time is spent rehearsing and perfecting our field show," she said. "The competitions are very intense. Rehearsals can be somewhat stressful at times, but they always pay off.
"I enjoy being able to be a part of something that's so complex, and being able to help everyone else in the band. We all rely on each other, and it's so rewarding when we can do something perfectly together.
"Being in marching band has taught me I can't always do everything on my own. But as a team we can take on anything," said the senior.
Stephanie is a member of the National Honor Society and also plays clarinet -- a skill she has been honing for the past decade.
"It's become a huge part of my life," said Stephanie, a member of the high school's Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Orchestra, and of the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra.
In college, Stephanie plans to study music performance and education.
"Ideally, I'd love to continue playing my instrument, but I also really enjoy teaching," Stephanie said.
"For now, I want to just take opportunities as they arise, and hopefully I'll gain a lot of experience and end up with a rewarding career doing something I love to do -- sharing my gift of music with others."
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