Dozens of teens from Oklahoma and Texas moved to Ardmore this week for the third edition of the Texoma Marching Arts and Leadership Academy. While the majority of the week’s schedule is reserved for high school marching band members to collaborate and hone their skills, Wednesday and Friday will invite the audience to Noble Stadium for performances by multiple groups.
The academy, sponsored by the local nonprofit Southern Oklahoma Community Arts, has brought high school students to South Oklahoma every summer for the past three years. First held at Lake Murray in 2019 with a narrower focus on group leadership and ancillary roles, it moved to the Ardmore Convention Center last year with online offerings and extended to horn sections.
This year returns to an all-in-person camp that ends with a closing ceremony at Noble Stadium on Friday. SOCA coordinator Chauvin Aaron said this year’s academy had a record 173 students enrolled in 34 different schools. He hopes that several lessons in leadership can be taught to students through the arts of walking and then returned to schools in the area.
âAll of these students here are leaders in their group,â said Aaron.
Group principal Drew Etheredge brought nearly a quarter of the Pauls Valley High School marching band, including drummers and horn players, to Ardmore this week for the academy. The Ardmore High School graduate said the 18 students he brought to Ardmore this week will certainly return to class ahead of their group camp later this summer.
âNot only are they honing their musical skills this week, but they’re also honing their leadership skills,â Etheredge said.
Ardmore High School Drum Major Charles Brady has been with the group since sixth grade and started attending the academy in 2019. The saxophonist and drum major said some of the biggest teachings at the camp have come down to it. been the bonds he has forged over the years.
âCamp was probably the best way for me to interact with the elderly,â Brady said of previous camps.
After:Inaugural music camp kicks off this week at Murray Lake
The students each spent $ 300 to attend the five-day camp which includes meals and hotels. Aaron said donations from area banks guaranteed meals for campers and that the Ardmore Tourism Authority had helped secure use of the convention center. Members of Southern Oklahoma Community Arts hosted the event by securing sponsors, locations, and equipment from nonprofits, business sponsors, and organizations within Ardmore.
A particular challenge for the organizers was how to deal with the pandemic and an impending third wave. Aaron said the academy was following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for youth camps. Along with recommendations such as social distancing and the use of masks for unvaccinated campers, the guidelines also include May updates regarding the use of outdoor masks and vaccinated participants.
On Wednesday evening, two drum and bugle corps will visit the camp for performances. The Texas-based Compass Drum and Bugle Corps and Guardian Drum and Bugle Corps will perform at Noble Stadium following the academy presentations at 8 p.m. A final closing ceremony will take place at the stadium on Friday at 11 a.m.
Unlike in previous years where Brady was able to connect with seniors from Ardmore High School at Texoma Marching Arts and Leadership Academy, the new senior is looking forward to connecting with subclasses and section heads this year.
âI want to get closer to the people in my sections because I’m a senior now. The roles have turned, haven’t they? ”