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191st Street Development   Monday, January 22, 2018
In the news:
 Lincoln-Way band will march in 2019 Rose Bowl parade

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Lincoln-Way band will march in 2019 Rose Bowl parade
Monday, January 01, 2018

Susan DeMar LaffertyContact ReporterDaily Southtown
reprinted from the Daily Southtown

For the third time in school history, the Lincoln-Way High School Marching Band will participate in the "Granddaddy of them all" - the 130th Annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, school officials announced.

Band members learned Wednesday that they will be among the few to be invited to participate in the 2019 Rose Parade, which is "one of the most prestigious honors a marching band program can receive," band directors wrote in a letter to parents, informing them of the news.

It will be one of 19 marching bands along the 5 1/2 mile parade route, and one of only nine high school bands from throughout the world.

Nearly 80 high schools applied to participate, and Lincoln-Way is the only school from Illinois, said Candy Carlson, communications manager for the Tournament of Roses. Not all 2019 bands have yet confirmed, she said.

The New Year`s Day parade will be broadcast in 217 countries, in more than 20 languages to well over 65 million people worldwide, according to the Tournament of Roses Association.

Lincoln-Way bands previously marched in this event in 1982 and 2000. In 2016, after Lincoln-Way North High School closed, the district`s three remaining high schools combined to form one community marching band, with more than 300 members and four directors, Bert Johnson, Cary Ruklic, Justin Barnish and Chris Mroczek. They are expected to march in the Rose Bowl Parade with at least 250 members.

In combining the bands, the district`s goals were to heal the community that was torn apart with the school closure, and do things they could not do with a smaller group, Johnson said.

"We could not believe it happened so soon," he said. "It`s pretty awesome."

"Lincoln-Way has a special relationship with the Rose Parade reaching all the way back to 1982. We are incredibly proud of our students for this accomplishment, and humbled by the opportunity to represent our community in this iconic event," band director Ruklic, said in a district news release.

In addition to marching in the Rose Parade on New Year`s Day, the band also will perform in one of three Bandfest events.

Band members, who will be in California for a week, also will march down Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland`s Magic Kingdom.

Johnson said they applied in May, and submitted historical information on the band program, its successes over the years, biographies of the directors and videos of the current band - which was the first year of the combined marching band.

It also helped that Lincoln-Way bands have marched in the parade twice, Johnson said, adding that he participated in the Rose Parade as a member of the University of Michigan band, but never as a director.

"You don`t know you`ve been selected until you get that phone call in September," he said, which he received in the middle of a rehearsal.

"I didn`t answer the first five times they called," he said. When Johnson finally answered, it was the head of the selection committee saying, "I have great news for you."

"I was trying to make eye contact with the other directors. I was fist pumping, so they knew, but the kids didn`t," Johnson said.

It would be another two weeks before the band members were told during a special video presentation in the Lincoln-Way Central auditorium, at the end of which, each student received a rose.

But in the middle of the two-and-a-half-minute video, students began to realize what was happening and started cheering ‚ÄĒ"sustained cheering for over a minute," Johnson said. "It was really cool."

When the video ended with the announcement that the band would be a participant in the 2019 Rose Parade "they exploded," he said.

"What an honor this is to be selected to perform at the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade," band director Mroczek said in a press release. "The student`s reaction to the announcement of their selection was wonderful and unbelievable. I am so proud of the students in the Lincoln-Way Marching Band, past and present, and I am positive that they will represent Lincoln-Way District 210 with pride and honor in Pasadena."

The directors wanted to make sure everyone felt valued and honored ‚Äď including the 69 seniors who would be graduating, Johnson said.

Those seniors - as well as those who graduated in 2017 - were all part of the program, and the videos, that were included in the application to the selection committee, he said.

The video portrayed what it means to be part of the Lincoln-Way legacy - the traditions, commitment, accomplishments and roses.

"The Rose Parade is the premier event for high school marching bands. We could not be more proud of all of our current and former students who helped the LWMB receive this invitation. We all are proud to continue the strong history of the Lincoln-Way band participating in the Rose Parade," Barnish said in a press release.

According to the tournament association, bands are selected based on criteria that includes musicianship, marching ability and entertainment or special interest value. To be considered, band representatives submitted detailed application in the spring, with photos, video footage and letters of recommendation.

Bands are required to raise all funds needed for the trip, and Johnson said they do "a lot of that already."

In a district news release, Junior Hailey Woock said, "I`m at a loss for words. I`m excited to continue on our legacy. Lincoln-Way has so much history and so much pride; now we get to start this next chapter and represent Lincoln-Way in front of millions of people."

"Over the summer, we went to the Drum Major Institute, and I thought that would be where the bar would be placed. After knowing we`re going to the Rose Bowl now, the bar has been thrown 10 miles beyond where I thought it could go," Junior Nick Forlenza said in that release.

Johnson said he expects a "bump" in band enrollment next year, as more students will want to be part of the excitement. Next year`s band also will have customized uniforms to fit the theme of the parade, and will extend its season from October to Jan. 1.

The group will likely perform its traditional "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and one "unique song," he said.

Along with its successes, the directors all believe the combined band also has healed the community.

The kids enjoy being together and doing an activity "with people they love," Johnson said. "Seeing kids happy has an effect at home" and in the community.

The "very dedicated" parents group has provided "enormous support," for the band program, and Superintendent Scott Tingley has been the "behind the scenes support, and an instrumental part of our success," Johnson said.

"If we don`t have that, it doesn`t happen," he said. "This is a community honor for sure."

slafferty@tribpub.com
Twitter @SusanLaff


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