POTM ends season with joyful banquet and plans for future

The Pride of the Mountains marching band held their end-of-the-season banquet Saturday night, celebrating the culmination of two years’ worth of hard work. 

The first marching season since the end of serious covid restrictions left a lot of uncertainties for the band, however, they completed yet another successful year. This was celebrated on Thursday, Dec. 2  through their first band banquet since after the Macy’s Thanksgiving  Day Parade three years ago.  

The night was studded with appearances from many star faces in and around the band community including Matt Henley the drumline instructor, Dr. Eaddy the band director, Mr.  Bailey the assistant band director, and even Chancellor Brown and her husband were in attendance.  

Many awards were given to the most valuable member, most improved member, as well as spirit awards for each section of the band. For some, the most important part of the night came with the announcement of the new drum major, assistant drum major, and staff coordinators.  

The Staff coordinators for the 2022 season will be Jude Hahn, Keaton Shaw, and Brandon  Rice. They will be replacing the roles of Holly Hanschild, Maddy Farmer, and Jennifer Burhans who will be graduating and moving on to bigger roles. In their final speeches to the band, they reminisced about how the Pride of the Mountains has forever changed their lives and how they will go on and continue to carry the heart of the band with them no matter where they go. 

“They have some very big shoes to fill,” said Dr. Eaddy after the announcement.  

The new 2022 season drum majors also will have some major work on their hands replacing the much-beloved Grace Pressley, Ren Byrnes, and Connor Nelson. 

Though Megan  Newton was also an assistant drum major in the 2021 season, she will be reprising her role, this time as head drum major. The former drum majors said their teary goodbyes to the band as drum major for the final time before ushering in the new group of leaders.  

Megan Newton will be taking on the role of head drum major, joined by Samantha  Cannon, Cody Dalton, and McKenzie Yazan acting as her assistant drum majors. Each one of them showed immense talent and commitment during the rigorous vetting process they each went through in the weeks before the announcement.  

The banquet was beginning to come to a close however Dr. Eaddy threw a wrench in the plans with a surprise announcement. 

The Pride of the Mountains will be representing Western Carolina University at the Bands of America Grand National competition in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis IN.  

Grand Nationals is the premier band competition that includes spectacular music and pageantry events, one that band fans from all across the nation and around the world travel to experience some of the best competing bands in the nation. The Pride of the Mountains marching band will be performing an exhibition for millions of high school bands which has the opportunity to be a major recruiting event for the university, but is also a major opportunity for our band to gain recognition for excellence in the marching craft. Needless to say, this was extremely exciting for members of the band and staff.  

The night ended with the band joining together as a whole for the final time of the 2021  season to sing the alma mater. For some graduating seniors, this is the final time ever that they will be in this kind of environment. There were some tears, but it was mostly good feelings of camaraderie and love among these dedicated musicians.