Panther Band sets Liberty Hill record at UIL Area

Director John Perrin and some of the band students display their awards from UIL Area contest Oct. 27. (Photo by Shelly Wilkison)

The Liberty Hill High School Panther Marching Band made school district history Saturday by placing sixth among 28 bands at UIL Area marching competition.

Director John Perrin said the band was one place away from qualifying for the State contest in Class 3A.

“It’s the farthest Liberty Hill has ever gone,” said Perrin, adding that band directors and students are still celebrating.

There are 200 bands in Texas in Class 3A. By finishing sixth place, Liberty Hill ranked among the top 50 in Texas. Class 3A bands compete in UIL marching competition in even-numbered years, with its next opportunity being in 2014.

“While the news was bittersweet in that it would have been awesome to have school dismissed Monday (Nov. 5) to watch us perform in San Antonio (state contest), they (LHHS band) did the best they possibly could and did an exceptional job,” he said.

The districts that placed in the top five that will go to State marching competition next Monday include Burnet, which placed first in Area; Kennedale, Springtown, China Spring and Castleberry.

This year’s marching show for Liberty Hill was entitled “To Sleep per Chance to Dream,” an arrangement of songs that relate to dreams and nightmares.

“We played quality music. We didn’t play music just to march to it,” he said. “We played the music people like to listen to.

“The students executed it well.

Perrin said he knew Liberty Hill’s band was good, but to hear it affirmed by judges at that level was an emotional moment for him and directors Karen Dyre and Kevin Baird.

“I’ve been telling them (students) that if you practice and work hard enough that even on your best day it’s going to be good enough,” Perrin said.

When the band left the field after their final show late Saturday night, Perrin said he knew each student had given everything to the performance.

“They gave all they could and each person did their very best. It’s been a long time since I had that feeling,” he said.

“When I got my packet (with the results), I wanted to jump up and down screaming,” Perrin said. As he ran toward the band while the results were being announced, he arrived just in time for students to hear they had made the finals.

He said the group went wild, screaming with excitement.

“I was blown away,” said Ms. Dyre. “I was a tiny bit disappointed at getting so close and not making it, but I was so proud of the kids for really selling the show in the finals.

“They left everything on the field and we couldn’t have asked for more from them,” said Ms. Dyre. “As far as making it in two years, the kids set the standard this year. The younger ones now have an idea of how much work goes into making it to the finals at Area, and if they want to make that final jump to State they’re going to have to work as hard as they did this year and crank it up just a little bit. They’re great kids and I think they’ll rise to the challenge.”

The competition day started at 5:30 a.m. when the band boarded buses and left Liberty Hill for Waxahachie where they performed just after 10 a.m. The band waited until after 9 p.m. for the results to be announced and then performed again at 9:45 p.m. The group returned to Liberty Hill about 2:30 a.m. Sunday with the good news about its sixth place award.

Perrin said many Liberty Hill families traveled to Waxahachie to watch the performance and cheer on the band. Liberty Hill Band Boosters gave the group an early-morning send-off before dawn on Saturday.