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School bands to march indoors Thursday evening

The sixth-grade drumline of Kya Nickel (from left), Will Brandner, Jose Ayala, Sam Fellows, Michael Schnieder, Abigail Wede and Kip Jenson rehearse under the direction of Michael Andersen Friday afternoon at the Worthington Middle School. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)1 / 4
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WORTHINGTON — After wolfing down waffles and wandering among silent auction wares, concertgoers will walk into the Worthington High School (WHS) gymnasium for an hour of music and awards Thursday evening.

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“This is the culmination of the competitive marching band season for the high school band, and the waffle feed is an important fund raiser for us,” shared Jon Loy, WHS band director. “I’m particularly excited for this concert, because we are trying to have more audience interaction with the band than in past years.”

A pre-concert waffle feed in the WHS cafeteria has become a tradition, and with the Worthington Middle School (WMS) fifth- through eighth-grade bands (under the direction of Jeanette Jenson and Mike Andersen) also engaged, the night becomes a rock-the-roof event for all.

“There are 160 students in the sixth- through eighth-grade band,” noted Andersen, who has chosen a “Star Trek” theme for his portion of the program.

“I’m a big ‘Star Trek’ and science fiction fan, so when I saw the new ‘Star Trek’ movie, I really enjoyed the theme music and thought it would fit the middle school band really well.”

Hence, Andersen’s bands’ all-”Star Trek” show numbers include “Enterprising Young Men” (the movie’s theme song), “Star Trek, The Next Generation” (music from the TV series of the same name) and “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (from the original 1960s TV series).

“Brett Kroeger and I arranged all the music, and the rehearsals have been going well,” Andersen said.

Jenson, meanwhile, has a cartoonish interlude planned for her 60 fifth-graders.

“We will perform some traditional tunes, as well as a piece entitled ‘Cartoon Medley,’ arranged by Mike Andersen,” related Jenson. “The programmatic piece, which features tunes such as ‘Jaws,’ ‘Old MacDonald’ and the ‘William Tell Overture,’ will be acted out by a couple of community members.”

Jenson notes that most of her fifth-graders have been playing together since early June, with the exception of 15 students who began when school started in late August.

“They’re all really thrilled about sharing the stage with the seniors from the WHS band for a number, and it’s a great experience for them to see what the future of band looks like in Worthington,” she added.

The future of band in Worthington looks — well, successful, if this year’s competition season is any indication.

“The band finished strong,” agreed Loy. “We had so many new kids — 42 — in the program, and only 17 seniors, so it took a little while to gain momentum, but the seniors kept leading all the way, encouraged the younger ones, and showed what level of excellence we try to attain.

“Seeing the results from our efforts helps them step it up.”

On Oct. 26 at the Anoka Halloween Parade, the Trojans captured a season-high point total of 92.9 — more than enough to top second-place rival Champlin Park’s 84 points, and also earning them first-place honors in every parade category: first place in Class 1A and parade grand champions, plus winners of the Outstanding Winds, Outstanding Drumline, Outstanding Colorguard and Outstanding Drum Majors awards.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm expressed by all band members at last week’s parade, and those caption awards speak for themselves,” said Loy. “That really covers the efforts of everyone in the band.”

Loy’s 130-member ensemble also garnered first place finishes in October at the Algona Band Day in Algona, Iowa, and at the Area Lakes Festival of Bands in Chester, S.D.; second-place awards were nabbed earlier in the season at the Waseca Classic and the Tri-State Festival in Luverne.

“Next year, pending school board approval, the band will likely be going to the Outback Bowl parade and halftime show in Tampa, Fla.,” said Loy of the trip he hopes to share with his students from Dec. 26, 2014, through Jan. 2, 2015. “They’ll also march at Disney World in Orlando — we’ve been accepted to perform at those Florida sites.”

But first, the band students will be serving up waffles and offering silent auction baskets on Thursday that include themes such as “Movie Night,” “Mary Poppins,” “Shop Worthington,” W-2’s Meats, “Warm Wishes,” “Desserts Galore” and more.

“The silent auction proceeds, like the waffle profits, benefit the band and help defray the costs of extra band equipment our regular schedule doesn’t cover,” explained Loy.

Besides the appearances by the WMS bands, Thursday night’s concert will include the always-popular “lights out” feature, new pep band music and the announcement of the 2014 band commanders.

“We have 11 students auditioning for two or three commander spots,” said Loy, noting that current commander and junior Brianna Kempema will return as a band leader next year (the other 2013 commanders are seniors Jaren Solt, Alex Purdy and Jeremy Majerus).

In addition, the Augustana College Percussion Ensemble, conducted by Dr. John Pennington, will be a guest performer on one number.

“The students enjoy the new pep band music they’ll share, they look forward to learning who the new commanders will be and they enjoy the creativity of the lights out show,” Loy said. “It should be an exciting night from start to finish.”

The Worthington Band Waffle Feed takes place Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the WHS cafeteria; tickets may be purchased at the door for the all-you-can-eat meal. The WHS/WMS Marching Band Indoor Concert begins in the WHS gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or District 518 activity passes will be honored. The public is invited to attend.