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‘Bees’ finishes second at Paoli contest

‘Bees’ finishes second at Paoli contest
‘Bees’ finishes second at Paoli contest
North Harrison Marching Cougars’ guard members perform around a drum player Saturday evening at the Pride of Paoli Invitational. Photos by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

Two proved to be a good number for the North Harrison Marching Cougars on Saturday as they competed in their second contest of the 2021 season at Paoli.

'Bees' finishes second at Paoli contest
Seth Smith focuses on his role during the Corydon Central Vanguard performance, also at Paoli.

It’s Jennifer Gordon’s second year as band director at North Harrison, and the group finished second, behind the Tell City Marching Marksmen, in Class AA.

“I am very happy with Saturday’s performance,” said Jennifer Gordon, who came on board at North Harrison last school year. “The kids really improved a lot from their first contest last week (at Evansville Central) and are really absorbing everything we (the band staff) are giving them.

“I am extremely proud of our color guard for winning Best Guard in AA,” she added. “Of the 11 guard members, only three are in high school.”

Rounding out Class AA were Pike Central (third), Heritage Hills (fourth) and Corydon Central (fifth). Eastern (Pekin) was scheduled to compete in Class AA but was unable to do so.

“I thought we showed some solid improvement from last week’s performance in Columbus,” said Steven Kurk, first-year director of the CC Vanguard. “The color guard was able to perform with us for the first time in Paoli, and the kids are getting more comfortable with the music every week.”

Their show is titled What Do You See.

“We’re hoping to have the third movement added into the show in time for this week’s performance at Floyd Central (High School),” Kurk said.

The Vanguard will take the field at 7:15 p.m. in Open Class C. Other bands scheduled to compete in that class are Silver Creek (7:15 p.m.), Princeton (7:45 p.m.) and Scottsburg (8 p.m.)

At Paoli, besides the Best Color Guard award, North Harrison received the Best Pit Crew award for Class A  and AA.

The Marching Cougars’ show is titled Bees and features Paul Hendrick (violin), Nathan Weston (clarinet), Lilly Hill (trumpet) and Andrew Swartz (tuba) as soloists. The show has four movements (with musical selections): the bees are waking up and getting ready to work (“Morning” from Peer Gynt Suite by Greig); the bees get to work (“Flight of the Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korsakov); the bees slow down a bit in mid-day to appreciate the beauty of the flowers they pollinate (“Flower Duet” from Lakmé by Delibes); and the bees celebrate a hard day’s work and go back to sleep (“Bees” from the Garden Suite by Standridge).

Staff for the Marching Cougars include Matthew Neville (music arranger and percussion teacher), Scott Carr (drill writer), Izzy Peake, Sydney Troncin and Becca Luhrsen (guard instructors) and Griffin Webster (winds and visual).

Gordon, who was born in New Albany in 1987 and graduated from Floyd Central High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Louisville and a master’s in secondary education from Indiana University Southeast.

“I knew pretty early on I wanted to play a musical instrument,” she said.

She tried playing violin in fourth grade but decided it wasn’t for her.

“So, in sixth grade, I started learning clarinet and fell in love with it,” Gordon said. “In eighth grade, I started learning to play bagpipes and have also played those ever since.”

In 2011, Gordon was hired to start a pep band at IUS and still continues to run the program.

“I built that program from literally nothing, and we consistently are a true ‘sixth man’ at IUS home games,” she said.

Prior to coming to North Harrison, Gordon spent three years at West Washington High School.

“What a year to change schools,” she noted of coming to North Harrison in 2020. “The students, parents, administration are all really supportive and made my transition as smooth as was possible when dealing with pandemic precautions.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indiana State School Music Association canceled marching band competitions for last fall.

“I am so excited to be able to do marching band this year,” Gordon said.

Outside of band, Gordon enjoys knitting.

“I usually have a small project in my office for when I’m waiting after school for practice to start,” she said. “I even started a tradition at West Washington for the graduating seniors; I knit them each a hat in colors of their choice.”

Gordon has been married for nine years to her “biggest supporter,” Scott Gordon.

“Ever since seventh grade when I decided I wanted to be a band director, I have dreamed to be a band director in Southern Indiana,” Gordon said. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to rebuild the Cougars band.”

Her goals are to work hard on fundamentals since the Marching Cougars are a young group; to put on a fun, entertaining show; and to lay the foundation for a strong future for the Cougars band.

On Saturday, the Marching Cougars will travel to Indianapolis’ west side to compete at Ben Davis High School. They will be in the Scholastic B class with Morristown, which will compete at 4:45 p.m. North Harrison will follow at 5.