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High schoolers play big role in Springville's Pageant of the Bands

What comes to mind when you think of Springville? Cows? Farms? Skiing? Or maybe simply a small town that you drive through to get somewhere else.

Most people don't realize the town's history or the strong sense of honor that its citizens carry with them. Despite the town's size, the community has had lasting traditions that make people proud.

One such tradition is the Pageant of Bands, now reaching its 50th birthday, and the town is planning a big blowout to make it as exciting as possible.

Pageant of Bands started way back in 1962, after Springville went to the first annual Gorham Pageant of Bands. Jerry Delisle, the Springville band director at the time, was so intrigued by the concept that he convinced Springville Kiwanis to create a similar event the following year.

The pageant has evolved throughout the years, starting with concert band, marching band and baton competitions, and later adding color guard, jazz ensemble, field band and drum line competitions. This year, 20 to 25 bands will be attending.

But the pageant begins long before the bands start to arrive. All year long people plan for the event, and fret over it. Members of the Springville High School Band run most of the event.

Joe Gervase, Springville's band director of two years, understood even before he began working at the school, just how much work goes into the pageant.

"I knew when I started working here that it would be one of the big focuses, and I was aware of just how important it was to the community," Gervase said.

Bill Cocca, the retired band director at Springville, said, "As much of a pain as it was to organize, and as many headaches and sleepless nights it caused, I think it remains my favorite band activity."

Senior Kiersten Roetzer arranged "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO for the marching band. After she saw a YouTube video of the Ohio University marching band performing the song, she and other students convinced Gervase to let them play the song.

"It was really fun to arrange ["Party Rock Anthem"]. I really like doing arrangements so it was nice," said Kiersten. "I love that I can be strongly involved, I think pageant is an awesome way to get high school kids involved in an important part of the community and the community's history. It really helps us get a grasp on what makes our town unique and why we should be proud to be in Springville."

Paige Higgins, also a senior, helped to arrange the percussion part of the song. She worked with all the percussionists to help them learn the piece in a short amount of time, and was even part of creating a dance for the drummers.

Hannah Kellner, a senior, also a percussionist, assisted Paige in creating the dance, plus she designed a logo that will be featured on the 50th anniversary T-shirts. And she is the Pageant Queen.

Kara Andrews, a senior, designed the main logo for the event that will will be featured on the programs.

"I loved getting a chance to design the logo," Kara said. "I loved the idea of allowing the kids who are actually in the band design something for pageant. I think it is a great idea to have students so involved in a project like this."

Abby Fornes, a junior, who is one of the band's drum majors, says a lot of hard work goes into preparing for the pageant.

"Being a drum major is very fun, but a lot of hard work," Abby said. "You have to learn the music inside and out as well as learn the commands to instruct the band when to march and when to stop."

Despite the work involved with pageant, when the event rolls around, and the students and instructors see their efforts being put into effect, they always end up enjoying themselves.

"I enjoy working with Becca and Mr. Gervase to help conduct the band. I'm looking forward to our celebration this year, which includes the performance of the Springville Jazz Orchestra. We hope to have a great turnout!" said Abby.

"Pageant is always super fun, you get to do an awesome thing for the community that everyone, young and old, can enjoy. ... It's amazing, and I am definitely going to miss being a major part of it next year when I'm at [college]," Kiersten said.

"My mind literally floods with pageant memories: of students, bands, directors, problems, solutions, performances, adjudicators, grins, grimaces, tears and laughter -- there were few dull moments," Cocca said.

This year, the pageant is being hosted at Springville-Griffith Institute on Friday (jazz bands) and Saturday (marching bands).

For the 50th anniversary, there will be a float in the shape of a giant birthday cake, a concert Friday night featuring the Springville Jazz Orchestra and high school jazz band, and a field show, when the Springville marching band will perform "Party Rock Anthem." The parade will start at 1 p.m. at the high school.

Alissa Roy is a junior at Springville-Griffith Institute.