Oswego’s Kylie Pelkey Earns Elite Status as Member of 2015 Army Marching Band

OSWEGO, NY – Years ago, Kylie Pelkey, as a new member of the Marching Buccaneers’ color guard, was assigned an umbrella to practice with.

She woke up recently to find she was an All-American

Kylie Pelkey applauds her fellow bad members for their hard work.
Kylie Pelkey applauds her fellow bad members for their hard work.

The 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour recruited the Marching Buccaneer Thursday night to the Army All-American Marching Band’s color guard.

Pelkey thanked the Army for giving high school students the opportunity to be part of the band.

“It’s like mind-blowing. When I saw that I got accepted, I was like, ‘No way!’ I just woke up and I checked my email and said, ‘I don’t think that’s real.’ But it was real and I was like …” she told Oswego County Today as she made an exaggerated shocked expression. “I started out spinning a little umbrella. It was so awful. And now I am an All-American and it’s sweet!”

Last year around this time when OHS Band Director Scott Ciesla approached her about auditioning for the Army band, she said, “I don’t think I can do that. There’s other guard girls that tried and didn’t make it.”

“You had to have the principal write you a recommendation letter and send that in with a bunch of other paperwork and release forms. And then, I had to send in a two-minute audition video of me doing my routine. I did a whole routine, I had been working on it since Winterguard. My best friend, Taylor, taught me some choreography for the beginning of it. You also have to send in an introduction video, you saying stuff about yourself,.” she explained.

The OHS senior said she started out ‘very low’ and “here I am now!” She hopes her accomplishment puts some pressure on the juniors in the band to have the courage to audition and keep the tradition going next year.

She thanked her friend for pushing her to keep improving. She also thanked the Marching Buccaneer staff.

“Without you guys, we wouldn’t be anywhere because we wouldn’t know where to start. And, you guys, all the marching band members, are just fantastic! The marching band would be nothing without you because if no one’s here, what are we supposed to do?” she said. “I’d also like to thank my parents for bringing me all the time and inspiring me.”

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio will be televised live on NBC, from the Alamodome on Jan. 3, 2015. The band will perform at halftime.

Since 2007, Pelkey is 13th Marching Buccaneers to be selected for this honor.

Kylie Pelkey poses with three other All-American former Bucs. From left are: Adam Dristle, Joseph Bertonneau, Kylie and Gina Bartholomew.
Kylie Pelkey poses with three other All-American former Bucs. From left are: Adam Dristle, Joseph Bertonneau, Kylie and Gina Bartholomew.

During a ceremony, immediately following practice for the Marching Buccaneers, US Army representatives officially announced the selection of Pelkey. She was honored before other band members, classmates, fans and family during the post-rehearsal event. Three former Buc All-Americans were also on hand to cheer her accomplishment.

A representative of the  U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour, thanked everyone for attending.

“We are here tonight to celebrate a talented student, who has been selected to be part of the 125 marching band members who will perform during halftime at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the nation’s premier high school sporting event,” he said. “Selected students exhibit exceptional musicianship, marching achievement, character and leadership.”

It takes a special person to be a soldier just as it takes a special band member to be selected as a U.S. Army All-American, he added.

“To become either, it takes mental, physical and emotional strengths that few possess and even fewer employ,” he said. “It is these strengths along with dedication, determination and teamwork that allow Army All-Americans to succeed and excel in school, in training and most importantly – in life.”

He then welcomed Pelkey to the podium to present her with her official Army jacket and hat.

“This community has really supported music in our schools. It’s really been unbelievable,” Ciesla said. “It helps and it’s part of the family that we have here. It’s an honor to have you all as our special guests as we honor one of our students that like many are thriving in our music program here in Oswego.”

“We are ever grateful for your service and sacrifices. From the bottom, of my heart, thank you so much for everything,” he told the Army representatives.

He recognized the three Oswego former All-Americans in the audience – Adam Dristle, Gina Bartholomew and Joseph Bertonneau.

“For me, personally, this is truly one of the highlights of the year,” he said. “I know Kylie is going to have an exceptional experience that she is going to remember for the rest of her life. She represents all that is right with Oswego High School, and all that is right in our music program. She has overcome a lot of adversity in her life. And, with the love and support of her family, has risen to be a talented leader of our color guard. She truly sets a fine example for what it means to persevere and strive for excellence.”

It is great to see the music program highlighted on the national stage, the band director said, recognizing the superintendent and board of education for their part in supporting the program.

It’s an important thing to know, Oswego is special, and has a lot of great things going on, Ciesla continued.

He cited the parents and entire community “who continually support their children. They may not know it yet, but your support means everything and (the students) would not be able to attain greatness without it.”

“Marching band truly is a team activity, it’s a family unlike any other. I cannot do this job alone, it’s impossible. Each and every one of you (parents and staff) have had a hand in Kylie’s development – as well as all of the students Thank you for your commitment to our community and this program. Thank you, everyone!” he said. “We are the only school in the country – the only school in the country – to have an All-American member in the band since the program started in 2008. We will continue to build on that tradition of excellence.”

“The U.S. Army has a distinguished musical history,” said Mark S. Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing. “Successful band members require great skill, teamwork and dedication — qualities similar to those of Army Soldiers. We are proud to honor all of our talented 2015 U.S. Army All-American Band members and commend each of them on their selection to this recognized group.”

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.

ARMY BAND BUCS  (Year denotes performance date)
Adam Dristle – 2008
Amanda Donovan – 2008
Heather Buske – 2008
Chelsea Bartlett – 2009
Kristen Bartholomew – 2010
Jacqueline Hondro – 2011
Thomas James – 2011
Gina Bartholomew – 2012
Jeffrey Murray – 2012
Joseph Bertonneau – 2013
Cassandra Hondro – 2014
Emily King – 2014
Kylie Pelkey – 2015.