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September 21, 2018

Marching Bucs Parade Of Champions Champion


OSWEGO, NY – Oswego High School Marching Buc Drum Major Amber Scruton knew it was a good show.

She said, “I had tears in my eyes halfway through the show. It was our best performance of the year.”

The judges at James Madison University apparently agreed with the OHS senior as “The Pride of Oswego” received an 82.20 in Class AA competition to capture first place in the annual “Parade of Champions” in Harrisonburg, Va., on Saturday.

The enthusiastic, yet tired Marching Bucs returned to Oswego on Sunday night after winning the JMU Parade of Champions Class AA crown. Drum Major Amber Scruton and Assistant Drum Major Billy McSweeny proudly display the trophy with (left to right) Board of Education member Sean Madden, Marching Bucs Band Director Stephen Defren and Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist.

The enthusiastic, yet tired Marching Bucs returned to Oswego on Sunday night after winning the JMU Parade of Champions Class AA crown. Drum Major Amber Scruton and Assistant Drum Major Billy McSweeny proudly display the trophy with (left to right) Board of Education member Sean Madden, Marching Bucs Band Director Stephen Defren and Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist.

On Sunday evening a tired group of Oswego High School students, chaperones and staff arrived back to town and were greeted, as they reached the county limits with the blaring sirens of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department and Oswego Police Department who proudly escorted the band toward its final destination.

Buccaneer Boulevard was ablaze with flares as the three Greyhound buses “landed” at OHS.

The trip was one that won’t soon be forgotten as the Bucs were the best on this afternoon in Central Virginia.

Assistant Band Director Heather Sweeting said, “Our hometown Buccaneers won awards for Best General Effect Visual and then the suspense started to build. After hearing fifth, fourth and third place announced the kids and parents got more and more excited.  Our show is called JOY … and you can only imagine the thrill and joy these hard working kids got hearing that their band came in first place in class AA.”

Hoots and hollers, lost voices, tears from happy seniors, and incredulous looks from first-year band members led to an hour of celebration back at the equipment trucks and bus area.

The walk from the field to bus was about a half mile and the kids celebrated the entire way.

“We had several students who became ill enroute to Virginia and they didn’t get the chance to perform, “Sweeting noted.

Scruton noted, “It was in awe. I don’t know how to explain it. It was our greatest performance of the year.”

Band Director Stephen Defren said, “The weekend was a great success and a tribute  to the amazing dedication  and spirit of everyone involved in our band program.”

Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist said, “I received a phone call from our marching band directors on Saturday informing me that our marching band won first place in their class at the James Madison University Parade of Champions. I was elated, to say the least. I am just so proud of our students for their accomplishments. I know that there were many obstacles that the band overcame to get there for their performance on Saturday – from student illness, to mechanical problems with buses. To that end, the cards were stacked against the band from doing well, but they pulled together and gave one of their best performances to date. The welcome home reception last evening was a great show of parental and community support. It gives me a great sense of school and community pride to see our students perform so well when they travel to events such as this. As representatives of our school district and community, our marching band, The Buccaneers, continue to make us proud of their effort, commitment, and performance quality. What a great showing of Buccaneer Pride!”

Continuing Defren said, “These kids overcame so much. We got a late start on Friday due to a mechanical problem with one of the buses. We got caught in a traffic jam on Route 81 and ran into horrible weather which slowed our progress. We didn’t get to rehearse on Friday night and after rehearsing on Saturday a deluge of rain soaked everyone completely. We were forced to go back to the hotel for a quick change and the kids dried off, changed clothes and got back on the bus in full uniform in 20 minutes.”

However, the situation began to change as the bus arrived at JMU. The sun came out and it was a perfect day for competition and the Bucs responded by putting on their best show of the year.

Defren noted, “At the beginning of our trip I am so glad we have the people working in our school district that we have. We had some concerns over one bus and Tom Gunn, Billy Myer and Don Blum rallied around the effort. Our employees obviously care about our kids. The district supplied a school bus to get some of our students to Syracuse where a new charter bus was prepared for us. Our people made sure that the replacement bus would be as safe and secure as possible. “

The director continued, “The parents who traveled with us to chaperone persevered through our travel difficulties and kept spirits high throughout the trip. They also helped with the immense logistical task of moving the band from place to place. I would like to thank the parents, relatives, and friends of the band who were able to travel to Harrisonburg to watch our performance and cheer on the Bucs. It is a great representation of our community to have so many supportive fans in the stands even when we are so far from home. It is important to thank our dedicated staff members who help guide our students to success.”

In conclusion Defren noted, “I could not be prouder to our students. It is obvious that their performance was spectacular, but throughout the entire trip they were great ambassadors of the Oswego. I received many comments from people along the way who were impressed by the behavior of our students. It is a testament to our parents, our school and our community.”

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