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Austintown hosts annual band camp

Friday, September 7, 2018

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.The Austintown band rifle line practiced outside of the school on Aug. 1 as part of the school's annual band camp.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.The full Austintown marching band, composed of 140 students, practiced marching in the parking lot as part of the Austintown band camp.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Amani Wadi-Ramahi marched in the front of a group of students practicing drills during the 2018 Austintown band camp.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Austintown flag line practiced outside of the school on Aug. 1 for Fitch's annual band camp.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Three high school students posed with their new tubas, recently purchased by the Austintown Band Parents Association, on Aug. 1 at Fitch's annual band camp.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker.Junior drum major Lexi Brent and senior drum major Nick Mattiussi led marchers during the 2018 Fitch band camp on Aug. 1.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

Austintown Fitch High School marching band hosted its annual band camp July 30 through Aug. 3. The camp ran from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day with an hour break for lunch.

Wes O’Connor, the director of the Austintown Marching Band, said that the goal of camp is to learn the new shows for the upcoming season.

“We try to get as much as we can learned,” O’Connor said.

The band has two new shows each year, written by the Senior Drum Major. This year that was Nick Mattiussi, a trumpet player, who said he was inspired to run for drum major by those who previously had the position.

“The way they handled leadership and conducted themselves in front of the band made me think that was really cool and something I wanted to do,” Mattiussi said.

This year, the band is doing a tribute to World War One, since 2018 is the 100th year anniversary of the end of the war.

“Whenever we get the chance we always try to do something that honors our heros,” O’Connor said.

Mattiussi created two shows to accompany the theme.

For the first show, Mattiussi created a show that would have the members of the band spell out the letters in WWI on the field.

This also fits the style of the band, O’Connor said, since Austintown is the last military band in the Ohio.

The difference, according to O’Connor, is the music the band plays and that they march a larger step.

“We still stick to our basic fundamentals of tradition,” O’Connor said. “You’re talking about a 92 year history here.”

He added that all of Fitch’s half time shows end by playing “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

“Our monicker is ‘tradition with innovation,’ so we try different methods of getting there,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor is assisted in running the camp by Assistant Director Jeremy McClaine and volunteers from the Band Parents Association.

With 140 children currently in the band, O’Connor said that the band parents are an essential part to camp running smoothly and efficiently. The Band Parents Association completed some of the more auxiliary functions during the camp, including getting water and organizing paper work from the band members.

“We have dedicated parents,” O’Connor said. “Our parents they put in a lot of time.”

After camp each day, weather permitting, O’Connor said that they also have a competition between band members. On Tuesday, the band had a march off, where each member had to march perfectly or was eliminated. The last member standing was given a pair of golden band shoes.

O’Connor said this is a great way to grow camaraderie in the band, especially for incoming freshman.

“For many kids this is their first experience in high school,” O’Connor said.

He said that the band camp is a good opportunity for freshman to become more acquainted with the school and meet upperclassmen.

“When they show up on their first day of school they have 140 friends,” O’Connor said.

After band camp, members of the marching band will practice throughout the end of August from 9 a.m. tuntil 12 p.m.

These are review practices to perfect the shows they learned at band camp before the start of the season.

“In band, every person is a starter,” O’Connor said.

To keep up with the Austintown marching band events, go to their new web site at www.afband.org.