A camp was held at last week with over 85 students from the school district's secondary schools in attendance.
The camp was run by Sachem band teachers, Geroge Macchio, band director and Michael Carroll, band coordinator. They were joined by other teachers on staff: Jason Macy, Robb Normandeau and Gene Bennett, a nationally renowned drill writer, who has worked with the marching band since it started almost 30 years ago.
The student leaders and main conductors for the marching band are drum majors, Samantha Meadows and Robert Downes, both of whom are seniors at Sachem East.
During the first two and a half days of camp, kids had to learn various drill positions on the field to coincide with each set of music and have them memorized. Wednesday evening was the first time they got to try their instruments out on the field.
"It's a volunteer group; there are no tryouts," explained Macchio. "It's its own world. There are almost 90 students who are all volunteers; it shows a lot of interest. It is the largest team activity in the district."
The marching band is unique in that it is the only club in the district that incorporates students from both high schools. The large number of students involved, and the integration of schools plays a big part in its singular appeal.
"The larger the group, the more exciting it is. That has been attracting more kids. It's like a snowball," said Macchio, who was among those who argued to keep the marching band together as opposed to breaking up into small separate groups at North and East. "Keeping it together kept it alive," he said.
During the week, the band was preparing to compete on the statewide circuit throughout September and October, and from now until the last week in October they will be working toward the championship competition held in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University.
In 2008, the Sachem Marching Band won the championship, in 2009 they came in fourth and in 2010 they placed third.
Macchio said he's hoping this year they can "win it all."
"We have the show to do it," Meadows said confidently.
This year's performance will include lots of visuals on top of expert musicianship, which is sure to wow audiences and judges alike.
"A lot of people don't think of marching band as something theatrical," said Meadows. "It's really awesome. There are a lot of kids [Meadows and Downes included] that never thought they'd be doing this."
Marching band fosters a sense of acceptance and belonging that is critical to helping some teens build self-esteem, and excel at school.
"It's mostly like one big family ... especially in band camp. You meet all these people, and are together for nine hours a day," said Downes.
Meadows added, "You get this network of friends ... It's almost like a sorority. You're in the band for life, and everyone fits in whoever you are."