Posted Date: 11/30/2023
The Atlanta High School Marching Band orchestrated a triumphant note in the school’s history when they placed third at the UIL State Marching Band Contest, and the pride band director Keith Sanders feels is still evident.
Sanders and members of the band were recognized by the Atlanta Independent School District Board of Trustees at the regular meeting on Tuesday for the passion, discipline and determination that got them to this historic achievement.
This milestone marked the band's ninth consecutive state appearance since 2006, with previous placements reaching as high as fourth. The realization that they were about to make school history hit home when the fourth-place announcement was made for another school, sparking an emotional outpouring from the Atlanta contingent.
“It was pretty special,” Sanders said. “I was doing OK until Mrs. [Kristen] Thompson lost it, and then we all kind of lost it. There was a lot of sweat, a lot of years, and a lot of hours going into that, so we were pretty pumped that we finally broke over the edge. It was pretty cool.”
In addition to the band’s overall triumph, the percussion section earned first-place votes from all the music judges in the preliminary and final rounds, securing some well-deserved bragging rights.
“They like to know they’re the best,” Sanders said. “Mr. Hale does a great job with them. Those guys are up here in the summertime, and they really do work hard.”
In the 3A competition, 196 bands aspired to reach the top level of competition, but only 23 made it to the state level. Sanders emphasized the collective effort involved in achieving this feat.
“It truly does take a village. We’ve got great parents. We’ve got good people that write our music, that write our drills and who helped with visual stuff,” Sanders said. “We’ve just got a really good team of people, not to mention our staff that works with the kids every day.”
Sanders appreciates the display of support from all those involved.
“I want to say a huge shout-out to our administration, school board, principals and everyone that makes this happen,” Sanders said. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of money to make all this happen. We sure appreciate their support.”
With a rich history of excellence, the Big Bad Band from Rabbit Land has traditionally been one of the most popular organizations at the high school. With more than 150 students involved, Sanders takes pride in the band’s inclusivity, providing opportunities for students of varying abilities.
“We’re in this for the kids, and so we’ve got kids out there that maybe shouldn’t be marching, but they get better,” Sanders said. “We could cut some people and be a bit more competitive, but it’s not worth it. There are a lot of kids that come to school every day for that sense of family, that feeling they get by performing with their friends.”
Junior Makenzie Lampshire, one of the drum majors, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the band’s unique cohesion.
“This band is definitely a very connected band,” Lampshire said. “We’re kids built on community, and that’s what makes our band so special.”