OSWEGO, NY – The 2012 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band Selection Tour visited Oswego High School Tuesday night.
During an 8:30 p.m. ceremony, immediately following practice for the Marching Buccaneers, they officially announced the selection of mellophone player Gina Bartholomew and drummer Jeffrey Murray to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.
The pair was honored before their band members, classmates, fans and family during the post-rehearsal presentation. Army representatives were on hand to conduct the official Bowl Jacket Presentation.
Oswego High School Principal Brian Hartwell congratulated Gina and Jeffrey on being selected to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Their band mates, family and friends seated in the bleacher cheered long and loud.
“What a tribute to music education in the city school district this is,” he said.
They are two of the 125 high school musicians who will perform during halftime of the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which will be televised live on NBC, from the Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 7, 2012.
The five U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour teams travel across the country from late-September to mid-December to announce all 90 players and 125 marching musicians to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and log a combined 30,000 miles.
“Thank you, it’s a real pleasure to be here tonight. And I’ve got to say I am a little jealous – getting to go to San Antonio in January, that sounds pretty good,” Assemblyman Will Barclay quipped.
Once in a while, you get a few special students who step up and do a great job, he continued. To have two members of the 125-member band be selected from Oswego “really says a lot about these two and the talent that they have,” he said.
He presented them both with certificates of merit from the NYS Assembly.
US Army Capt. Spears officially invited the OHS pair to the band. Marching band, like the Army, “provides young Americans with training, discipline and experiences that make them mentally, emotionally and physically strong,” he said. “It takes a special person to be a soldier just as it takes a special musician to be selected the Army All-American Band.”
He presented them with their official jackets and shako hat, adding, “Believe it or not, the United States Army wore this as its infantry headgear up through the war of 1812.”
Jeffrey said he went to the (Army band) website and there were three certain types of videos that had to be submitted.
“I play the drum set; I had to submit videos of me doing certain situations and one was an interview and one was a performance of the music they want you to play,” he explained.
He found out that he’d been accepted in the middle of July.
“My first reaction was shock. I was completely shocked. I didn’t realize it was going to happen,” he told Oswego County Today. “I was just very shocked. I had to re-read the whole thing.”
Gina Bartholomew said “it feels awesome” to be selected.
She said she also had to go through the video process.
She was out of state and her brother called her and said, “Hi, All-American!” she recalls. “I was really mad because I thought he was joking. So I was like, ‘you had better not be joking!’ I was shocked because I really wasn’t expecting it. But, I was really happy.”
“I’m really excited to be able to go and represent my community and my school,” she said. “Me and Jeff have been talking about this non-stop for a while. It’s just a really cool feeling to be able to represent our community in such a big deal.”
The musicians said they are looking forward to traveling, meeting new people and performing.
“I just wish I could go right now,” she added. “I am that excited. Now, I’m going to have this whole couple of months of really nothing (until it’s time to go) so I’m excited now and I want to go now!”
Jeffrey thanked everyone for turning out and for supporting him (especially mom and dad) and the Army for giving young musicians “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I’ll cherish this; I’m excited, I really am,” he said.
Gina echoed his sentiments. She also thanked the district for supporting music in the schools, her three band teachers, and the marching band staff over the course of her five-year tenure, and her family.
“I’m really excited to go to San Antonio and represent this community and school and I hope I will do you guys proud,” she said.
This season, the members of the Marching Bucs are under the direction of Scott Ciesla.
“This community has really supported music in our schools. It’s really been unbelievable,” he said. “It helps and it’s part of the family that we have here.”
He also offered thanks to all soldiers, past and present, “who continually fight for our freedom, safety and our country.”
“Jeff and Gina, congratulations. This community is so proud of you,” he concluded.
By becoming an Army All-American band member, Gina and Jeffrey join an elite group; only 125 high school band members among the millions in the United States are selected each year. Band members are chosen not just because they excel in music, but because they embody the same values of our Army Strong Soldiers – values like loyalty, integrity and respect, according to the Army.
For more than 11 years, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been the nation’s premier high school football game.