Monster Mash 2011

To say that my family loves Halloween would be an understatement.  We usually start decorating mid-September, and even have a storage unit that is primarily for solely our Halloween paraphernalia.  This year, as we have been very busy with marching season, we got off to a later start than we would have liked, nevertheless, got the yard and house decked out for the 2nd annual Pride of Hennessey Halloween party, “Monster Mash”.

With the twins birthday falling in the early part of October, we have always done a Halloween themed birthday for them, and then decided last year it would be fun to throw a party for the band, (1) because they work so hard during marching season and it’s a great way to finish off the season with a bang, and (2) because it gives us yet another reason to play with all of our cool Halloween stuff. 🙂  This year, we opted to merge the twins party with the band party and they got a couple of really cool Nerf guns that I tried out this morning.

Being all about themes, my husband and I actually have several themes that will extend out into numerous Halloweens to come, and due to time restraints this year we did a quick change in the theme from Zombie Summer Camp to an easier theme of Monster Mash.  We will have Summer Camp next year, and are already in the planning phases of some of the more detailed aspects of what camp is going to be like.  Going with Monster Mash this year however was a good plan and a spooktacular time was had by all.

If you have never been to one of our parties, allow me to welcome you to Zombie House, where we are an equal opportunity spook provider.  Want to hang out in Kronk’s house or slip your head and wrists into the stocks?  We can make that happen for you.  Want to play a round of zombie head tether ball or partake in “Survivor Fear Factor Style”?   You’ve come to the right place.

The first round of the game started out with the “Costume Catwalk” in which our party goers showed of their costumes “America’s Next Model meet Project Runway” style.  The winner would be voted into round two by fan applause, and some unfortunate player would be eliminated from game play by luck of the draw.  The hands down winner of this round would be Justin Bieber”, also known as Josh Hill, who also had his own personal entourage of screaming adoring fans.

Round two, our ghouls and goblins had to put their imaginations to work and create 2 different bad poems.  One would be about a Halloween themed topic drawn from a hat, and the other could be about anything they wished.  The only rule, it had to be a BAD poem.  As an example, Butch did a reading of “Drunken Milkman” by Scatterbrain.  Our winners this round were Josh for his topic and Kyla with her original poem entitled “Sticky Mustaches”.

Round 3 was the first “gross” round and would eliminate all by 6 players.  When you take cooked spaghetti, add a little oil, raisins, uncooked long grain rice and processed cheese from an MRE, toss in a little fake blood and chill it in the fridge for several hours, it’s ready for a little game called “Find the Critter.”  The object was to find as many rubber mice and frogs mixed in the slop within one minute while blindfolded.

  Mice were worth 1 point while frogs were worth 2.  The finalists after the mess was sorted were:  Kaylee, Erica and Mr Steuart with 11 points, and Tristan, Malinna and Shelby with 10 points.  At this point in the game, all 6 were given the opportunity to bow out, because while digging through the tub was gross, it was nothing compared to what they were about to face.


The final round was the “Food Fear Factor” or “FFF” round.  This year’s horrible food was actual food that our military eats on a daily basis when in the field or deployment.  We used MRE’s, four different entree’s mixed with raisins and placed on the fig cookie that came with it. That’s it.  No bugs, or anything exotic.  But it more than did the job.  At the end of the gagging and eye watering, Mr Steuart seemed to have won, but ran to the finish line before having finished swallowing everything, so the winner, with no complaint from the other contestants was Malinna.

Food, games, music, dancing, but most of all a time for an amazing band to come together for a night to enjoy each others company and the Halloween holiday.  A time to relax  after a very active marching season, a time that they can call solely their own.  We are more than happy to be able to host such a fun experience for these wonderful band kids and look forward to many more years of doing so. (We have so many years of themes ready to go, we can hardly wait!)  But for now, it’s time for us to put Halloween to bed, but we will be plotting and planning next year’s Zombie Summer Camp!!!


Poetry In Motion

Poetry in motion.  Visual interpretation of the musical performance.  This is what the Color Guard brings to a marching performance.  The Pride of Hennessey Color Guard sums up both statements as they continue to add trophies and titles for outstanding color guard all across the state.  This is just one of the reasons that the Pride’s award winning Color Guard is this week’s featured section.

As a former color guard member, I know how challenging flag work, projection and performance in both field and street can be.  Just like the band, the guard has to be duel focused to be able to do the work and march at the same time.  Considering how young of a guard we have and the fact that they are doing 5 and 6A work and continuing to bring home accolade after accolade shows what amazing and strong young women making up our guard. Being on the field as a visual performance means you have to have stage-like presence  that projects to the top of the stands.  It means smiling until your face feels like it’s going to fall off.  It means over exaggerating every single movement so that the judges in the press box can see your every movement clearly.

In order to have a strong color guard, you have to have a strong instructor working with them.  The Pride of Hennessey is very lucky to have on staff Nicole Steuart who pushes these girls to work together in parade and field competition, to shine independently in solo competition, and to develop a strong sense self confidence in themselves and in their work.  And while she is not a paid member of the Pride of Hennessey staff, you will find her spending much of her time in sectionals, at early band, at evening rehearsals and every game and competition, giving of herself and time to make this guard the best that it can be.  As a former guard instructor for Enid High School, Nicole brings what it means to be a big guard and instills it into are small group of seven.

While all seven girls do an outstanding job, only one can be the featured section member.  What makes this young lady stand out to me, is that she performs every time she picks up a flag or steps on the field or street.  There was one evening practice that she attended while sick and still gave 100% at the practice, smiling the whole rehearsal, projecting to the press box level, even when she physically didn’t feel like being anywhere other than at home resting. At Regional Marching Contest, she received a Superior (1) rating on her solo, and with her team received a Superior on their ensemble.  This week’s outstanding section member:  Vanise VonSchultes.

Vanise is an 8th grader, whose favorite colors are purple, lime green and yellow, loves spaghetti and Joseppie’s Italian Restaurant, is mostly into country music but really loves her solo music, “Calling All the Monsters” by China Anne Mclain and lists “Despicable Me” and “Date Night” as her favorite movies.  More of her favorites include the numbers 15 and 25 and the books “Number the Stars”, “Click Here”, and “Itch”. While watching competitive sports, you will find her cheering for her Hennessey Eagles and OU.

When it comes to sports her true love is volleyball.  This year, she started every game and is a strong server for her team.  She has even been told by her coach that she “serves like a high schooler.”  While the team didn’t win their final game of the season, they brought forth an amazing showing, and although the volleyball season has ended, basketball season has started and Vanise is serving as basketball manager.

In speaking of band, Vanise says, “Band to me is not a sport or activity, it’s my entire life!” and has no plans to walk away from it any time soon.  It’s always awesome when most of your best friends are in band as well, because you build many strong memories that will last a lifetime with them, and Vanise lists Shaianne, Shelby, Erica and Amber as her best friends.  A sisterhood of bandies that share probably the greatest memory of a lifetime, being Class 2A OBA State Marching Band Champions!

In putting together this story on Vanise, she shared with me some of her favorite quotes, which are true words of inspiration from the late Steve Jobs:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you have to connect them looking backwards.  You have to believe that the dots will connect themselves down the road.”

“Keep looking….Don’t Settle.”

“Stay hungry….Stay foolish.”

Great words from a truly inspirational man, and while I was so impressed that she has such awesome quotes to draw from, I was even more impressed when she listed her mother as her role model.  Living in a day and time that our youth is drawn to and look up to celebrities, be it positive or negative, it is a rare thing to find a young person that chooses to want to emulate the people that impact their lives on a daily basis, their parent(s). defines “poetry in motion” this way:  “Something that is poetry in motion is beautiful to watch.”  The Pride of Hennessey Color Guard genuinely sums up their definition of the phrase.  These beautiful young women bring forth grace and charm each time the step onto the stage, be it field or street to perform.  They are beautiful to watch.

The Road To A Championship

The road to a championship is not an easy one. It is filled with sweat, tears, injury and heartache. At times it is filled with disappointment, yelling and more pushups than you would care to count. Coupled with all of this is determination, pride, self discovery and victory.

The Pride of Hennessey has experienced all of this and more on their journey to Jenks.

If you didn’t know, this is a band that is made up of students starting in 7th grade through 12th grade.  So to say this is a very young band is hitting the nail on the head.  Some of these kids learned how to march this year, are playing music on a difficulty far above what their grade dictates they should be, and some have learned an instrument from the ground up.  They have faced adversity, knowing their assistant director is fighting cancer.  They have risen before the sun, marched in the dark and have done it all with one prize on their minds:  Marching in finals and winning State in class 2A at the OBA marching championships.

This season kicked off in the end of July with band camp.  This is where these band students started getting their minds and their bodies in shape for the marching season to come.  If you have never been part of a marching band, then you won’t know that it is as much of a sport as football or basketball.  Your body has to be conditioned and to be able to endure holding an instrument in certain positions for long periods of time.  You have to stand at attention and not move, showing massive self control.  And then, you have to be able to play that instrument, keeping your pitch in tune, hitting all the right notes, and maintaining specific angles with that horn.  All of this also applies to the color guard, who have a daunting task in controlling their flags, no matter if the day is peaceful, or if Mother Nature brings on massive winds.

While preparing for Jenks, this journey has taken the Pride to many football games, most of them away games on Friday nights, and different contests on not only Saturdays, but some weekdays as well.  And while we would like to say that it has been victorious every step of the way, that hasn’t been the case.  But in this band mom’s opinion, not being victorious all the time is where this band has built it’s character from.  It’s what stirs them to reach deep inside themselves and bring out the best from within.  Taking 3rd at the Perry Parade and with only our Color Guard placing at the OKC State Fair Parade showed these kids that it’s not given to you, it’s earned.  That you can’t just show up and expect to win, you have to show up and leave it all on the street or field.  After two parade competitions, it was time to bring it to the field at Putnam City.  This would be the first OBA contest the Pride would march in.  Not only were they the only band in their class, they were the smallest band in the competition. But this little band went out there and showed them the super heroes that live within them and took out a 5A band, placing 10th.  Their next contest would be in Konawa.  After finishing up with the ball game the night before, the band had to be at the band room at 4:45am to head out for both parade and field competition.  Being an OSSAA contest they are listed in the small 3a category for field.  This year, the Pride turned it up as they took 3rd overall in parade, which is 2 rankings higher than last year.  The Color Guard took outstanding for the 2nd year in a row for parade, and the Pride defended their 1st place for field by capturing it for the 2nd year in a row.  With only a few days until the next contest and a hardcore practice, the Pride set off for Tri-State in Enid the following Tuesday.  This would be another self defining moment for the Pride as they were competing more against themselves to do better than the Excellent (2) rating they received last year than against the other bands in their class.  When the awards were announced, the Pride was the only band lower than class 6a to receive a Superior (1) rating this year.  These are the few weeks leading up to the goal that was set at the beginning of the year for this band.  To go into Jenks and to make finals at OBA Championships.

Saturday, October 8th came very early after an away game at Chisholm.  After a very long bus trip, the band had to be ready to bring their A game to the field at 10:30 am.  The wind was beyond horrible, right before they were to take the field, the judges on the field had issues with their recorders, the Pride was the rookie band….it seemed the cards were stacked against them.  But then, when they took the field, the wind died down some, and our little band stepped onto the field like giants and OWNED the performance that mattered the most.  And when the preliminaries were over, and the dust had settled, not only did the Pride make finals, but took the awards for High Visual, High General Effect and most important, became the 2011 OBA State 2A Marching Band Champions.  At the end of the day, The Pride placed 12th out of 22 bands and was the only 2A band to make finals, the first in many, many years.

It would be nice to say that this is where the story ends.  They won State, they’re all done, but they aren’t done.  This coming Wednesday, the Pride travels to Alva for OSSAA Regional Marching contest, will continue to cheer on the Hennessey Eagle football team every Friday and on November 2nd will travel to Lawton for the final field marching competition of the season.  They will continue to pursue excellence in their sport, because it’s not over till it’s over, but as they continue on, they can hold their heads high and proclaim, “We are the Champions, my friend.”


**UPDATE**  The Wednesday following State, the Pride traveled to Alva for OSSAA Regional Marching Contest.  Not only did the band receive a Superior (1) rating, they swept with all 1’s from the judges.  After completing the field show, the Color Guard had solo and ensemble competition.  Vanise von Shultes and Rebecca Roberts both received a Superior (1) on their solos and the Guard was awarded a Superior on their ensemble as well.

Blow Your Own Trumpet

If you wish in this world to advance your merits you’re bound to enhance; you must stir it and stump it, and blow your own trumpet, or, trust me, you haven’t a chance. ~ William S. Gilbert

It never ceases to amaze me how easy trumpet players make their craft seem.  When you hear a clear blast from that horn, hear a well blended sound of 1st and 2nds, or hear a single bugle player play “Taps”, it gives you chills and you don’t think of the hours that it takes to perfect the sound that comes from that horn.  I live with a trumpet player, and I have seen the work, the effort, the frustrations and the joy that comes from being a trumpet player.

This week, it’s the trumpet section’s turn to “toot their own horn”. (Yeah, I know, very bad pun, but it seem appropriate.)  This section is nine times out of ten at the forefront of the band.  They are the strong melody makers and when they are not in the spotlight, they are a strong supporting factor within the sound of the band.  We are so lucky to have a dedicated trumpet line.  They work very hard to be the best that they can be because they are on the front lines….quite literally in the “Superman” drill.











One of the amazing things about The Pride of Hennessey trumpet line is that we have 3 veterans and 3 rookies marching this season.  If you have heard the music for this year’s show and have seen the drill, then you will know that this is not an easy marching year.  Our trumpets are holding their own and doing a great job at nailing their parts to make this year’s marching show such a success.   When you have 3 Jr High kids in such a noticeable section, motivation and encouragement is a big thing, and our highlighted trumpet player isn’t just a motivation to her section, but to the rest of the band as well.  I would like to introduce you to Sophomore trumpeter Shelby Crump.

Shelby, aka Super Ninja is a truly amazing young woman. Some of her favorites include the colors purple, yellow and royal blue, country music, fruit,  and the number 26.  Her favorite movie is “Despicable Me”, and is a huge Hennessey Eagle and OU fan.  Her favorite sport, softball is a huge factor in her life.  Starting with Tee Ball at the age of four, Shelby has made a home on the softball field, having played both catcher and third base.  After a knee injury, she now solely plays third base, but is in the process of learning how to pitch.

In the process of finding out a little more about Shelby, it showed her dedication to band when she shared of her favorite quotes with me.  “What are those football players doing on the band field?!”  She joined band in 6th grade, but dropped after that year, until in 8th grade a friend of hers talked her into picking it back up.  That was the first year Mr. Steaurt came to Hennessey.  This was the year her life really started to change.  Being an 8th grader, she wasn’t a part of the marching band yet, but did help carry the banner for the parade competitions, got yelled at by Peter VanGee for taking too small or large of steps, and got to travel to Washington D.C. with the band, where they took 1st in the parade.  This started a bonding process with the band, which is now a family.  Her freshman year, she started learning proper marching, progressed in her playing ability and knew band was a very important and fun part of her life.  Now a sophomre, she plays 1st trumpet, is a co-section leader and is 110% dedicated to The Pride.  Her second home is the band room and she is more often than not hanging out with her fellow “band nerds”.    She is so proud of everything that the band does, and is so thankful to everyone who helps make the program so successful. (Mr. Steuart, Nicole, Bradley and Patrick.)  Shelby says, “They are the ones who built our spirit, dedication, teamwork and PRIDE.  We work hard to be who we are and it all pays off.  There are people who look up to us and we never had that until now.  We thank them so much for that.  Band has made me who I am today.  I have learned so much through band and made so many great friends.  I have learned what strength, dedication, success, fun and Pride really mean.  I don’t know what I would do with my life if I didn’t have band.  It puts a smile on my face everyday no matter what.  I look forward to the upcoming years in band and carrying on our tradition!  BAND, THE SKY IS THE LIMIT … DREAM BIG!!  TOGETHER WE MADE IT!”

Shelby’s band goals include:  Progressing in her playing and marching as much as possible, becoming a great section leader next year and helping the trumpets as much as she can, becoming a great role model for the younger marchers, winning as many competitions as possible, and WINNING STATE! Possibly becoming drum major her senior year, but most of all making the last few years the best she can.

Her future goals include:  Attending NWOSU after graduation and being in the Ranger band, possibly playing softball then transferring to OU or OSU after finishing her basics, with the hopes of being in the medical field, possibly a doctor or pediatrician.

It is so awesome to have such amazing and dedicated students in our band.  It’s even more amazing to have students that are not just about being the best that they can be, but encouraging their band mates to be the best they can be as well.  And while The Pride may only have six trumpet players, I think it’s safe to say they are a melodic force to be reckoned with and very worthy to be the Mama Cross section of the week.