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Norwin High School band marches to victory

The Norwin High School Marching Band won three regional Bands of America competitions. Submitted

By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 12:58 p.m.

Marching band members brought several awards home to Norwin High School this semester.

The band attended three regional Bands of America competitions and won its division, based upon school size, at each one. Plus, the band was dubbed “regional champion,” a title for the overall highest score across classes.

“The three of those is a really big deal,” said Rob Traugh, director of bands. “This is the first year in the history of our band that we have won three regional championships in one season and swept all of the caption awards.”

Caption awards are bestowed for highest scores in categories such as visual performance and general effect of the show.

The band was named “national class champions” at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Marching Band Association championships, a local competition held last Saturday at Penn-Trafford High School.

“It is very exciting, but it's also not surprising given the group of students that we had this year,” Traugh said. “I get the privilege of watching the group grow through the season and there's no secret to the success. It's just students that are willing to commit and work very hard and buy into the organization and buy into the show that we presented.”

The marching band presented a competitive show at the three events, held in Monroeville; Akron, Ohio; and Towson, Md. Students began learning the competitive performance in August, and the show developed through October.

The show, titled “The Road To You,” tells the tale of two lovers separated by war, and chronicles their letter correspondence, ultimately portraying a tragic end.

Even before students began practicing, Traugh and staff members spent months developing the story.

“We did creative writing and developed the script,” he said. “I write the music. Someone takes on visual identity — how kids move on the field. It's a lot like putting on a play.”

April Ngo, a Norwin junior, plays clarinet in the marching band, and she plans to play in the band again next year.

“I really just want to take the same work ethic that we had this year,” Ngo said. “ ... I feel like this year we've worked harder than we've ever worked before, and it really paid off with all our success.”

Johnny Murray, a senior, serves as one of the band's field conductors. In his role, Murray leads the band on the field, keeping tempo and cuing different parts of the music.

Murray said the band took on a different approach and a new look this year, debuting new uniforms at the Towson show.

“I'm really impressed with all the wins we've had,” Murray said. “It's the first time that the band has ever won three regionals in one year. (The) first time we've been undefeated since 1999, and it's all a testament to the hard work we've done.”

This season is Traugh's sixth year as band director. Norwin band's competitive tradition dates back to the 1970s, and to him, every season has been a step.

“Really, what makes the season successful is all of the work of students from the past graduating classes have put into the program,” Traugh said. “ ... It's really a tribute to the work that the students before this class of students put into the program.”

Since Traugh began spearheading the program, membership has grown 50 percent, to 158 students this year.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or



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