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American Fork marching band continues long tradition of winning

Posted at 4:43 PM, Nov 06, 2023

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — The American Fork marching band has a new honor to hang their hats on after finishing another season on top, taking their 20th straight Utah state title.
 
"It’s really cool," said senior flute player Lydia Stoddard. "I like winning, sorry!"

There's nothing to apologize for as winning is just what the high school marching band does best. Not only did American Fork win the program’s 20th straight title over the weekend, but they also took a regional title in the Bands of America competition among schools from other western states.

"It’s definitely a lot of work and a lot of hours that you have to put into it but it’s all worth it in the end," explained senior trombonist Ezra Baldemar.

For drum major Judson Parker, the new title is proof of a successful year. 

"I remember watching at the beginning of the season, we had kids who could barely hold their horns up for like a parade, but at the end of the season they could do it three times and I wouldn’t be worried about them," he said.

Parker believes the band's tremendous growth comes from strong community support and long-running tradition, something Principal Peter Glahn says is his favorite part.

"There are grandparents, great-grandparents who are still standing and coming to support the band," he said. "It’s amazing."

Glahn adds that as a school administrator, student mental health is always top of mind and he's grateful for the band program and what it does for the kids. 

"When they are doing something that’s really difficult and having a group of supportive adults and peers doing it with them, it raises connection and belonging they feel and mental health is better," Glahn said.

Orien Landis has been the band director, dedicating his early mornings, late nights and weekends to the cause over the past five years.

"I start kids at American Fork Junior High on brass, and I’ve got my oldest group right now is juniors and I’ll graduate my first crop of students next year and it’s pretty fun to see them grow up," he shared.

On top of the new victory, Landis says says it's even cooler as the 92.1 score they received in the Bands of America competition was the highest in school history.

"You could just see them, and they were like, we did it," he said. "Everything they’d been working on all year long. I was beside myself.

"Tears coming down my face, hugging the staff, and as soon as we got on field high-fiving, and can’t believe you did it... made yourself immortal, that’s so cool.

Landis says the school is already planning for next year.

"We start planning everything out November and December, and by January we have a pretty good plan of what’s going to happen," he said. 

And planning already to add yet another trophy to the case.