EDINBURG — Band students from two Edinburg school district high schools are preparing to take the stage this weekend at an international competition with from more than 300 other participants.
The Winter Guard International Sport of the Arts World Championship begins Thursday in Dayton, Ohio, and continues through Sunday. More than 46,000 participants have competed in regionals for a spot in the 41st WGI world championship stage.
Though its only three years old, Edinburg North High School is sending its winds team to compete against similar ensembles from around the world. Edinburg High’s drum line will compete among 250 other percussionists.
“We are very proud of our students from both high schools to be representing the Valley in this event,” said Edinburg schools Superintendent René Gutiérrez. “Fine arts is always an enrichment program for our students and we are very proud to see our students compete at a national and world level.”
Jason Rogers, band director at Edinburg High School, said his team has been participating in competitions to reach this level for the last 10 years, which he said provides them a good opportunity to see what’s out there and commit themselves to trying to be the best as they represent not only their school but the region.
“It’s a life-changing experience for the kids to be able to experience competition with groups from not only across the country but from across the world,” Rogers said. “We’ve gotten better, we’ve improved and we have gotten to a point where we feel like we can represent our school at a stage as big as the Winter Guard International.”
Newer to the competition is the winds team at Edinburg North, as Director Chad Dempsey said they started the indoor team about three years ago. For those unfamiliar with it, Dempsey described it as essentially a marching band in a gymnasium and said his department created it in an effort to give the students a new avenue to perform and develop leadership skills by leading the inaugural group.
“It’s a very new activity, and trying to be at the front of the activity has been very exciting,” Dempsey said. “We’ve been regional champions in our class for the last three years. … It’s exciting to see the kids perform at a high level. To perform at a national stage with groups that are at their level.”
Even though other competitions, such as the Pigskin Jubilee, and regionals keep the teams busy and practicing throughout the year, both directors said they worked hard to prepare for this weekend’s performance. The students return to the Valley on Sunday as the competition stretches over three days.
“With Edinburg North traveling with the winds team up there as well, I think this pays tribute to the kind of students, kind of parents and the kind of school district we got in Edinburg,” Rogers said. “The fact that we are able to support these kids going and performing on a world stage is really fantastic opportunity for our kids, for our schools and for our community.”
The competition will be broadcast live at wgi.org.