The Hopewell Valley Marching Black and Gold represents the Hopewell Valley Regional School District all around the country, and this year the pride of the Hopewell Valley celebrates its 15th year. David Schwartzer has directed the renowned marching band since its founding.
In the fall of 2007, 50 students — all marching band novices — performed their first field show. “They were committed to something that was new and strong,” shared Schwartzer, who is also a music teacher at CHS.
In the years since, the MBG has become one of the largest student organizations at CHS and the extracurricular activity retains a membership of between 50 to 70 HVRSD students from grades 8 to 12.
The rehearsal, performance, and competition schedule is rigorous. The season begins with band camp at the end of August and runs through the end of October or early November, with rehearsals two nights a week, games most Friday nights, and an 8- to 10-hour rehearsal and competition combination on Saturdays. After the football season, the band gets back together for the Memorial Day parades in Pennington and Hopewell Borough.
When asked about the most challenging part of his role, Schwartzer said that imparting the benefit of making this sustained commitment was high on the list. “While the commitment might seem like a lot, it is so very worth it — it is more than just marching band and drill steps and notes on the page … it’s about community, family, and growth as a team. That is hard to articatule to a teen.”
Schartzer himself participated in marching band in high school in Washington Twp/Gloucester County, marched in the Rose Bowl Parade, and also did marching band at West Chester University.
In the band’s 15 years under Schwartzer’s direction, it has won an impressive collection of achievements and trophies that flank the hallways of CHS. Here is a recent sampling of some achievements:
- 2019 NATO International Parade of Nations – Norfolk, VA – Silver Medal
- 2018 USBands Group IIIA NJ States – Best Color Guard
- 2018 USBands Group IIA Yamaha Cup Champions – Best Color Guard – Best Percussion
- 2016 Disney Festival of Music – Marching Band Gold Award – Superior Rating 2016 Disney Festival of Music – Parade Band – Best in Class
- 2013 USBands Group IV A National Championships – Best Color Guard
The marching band has traveled to Disney World in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 and won numerous awards in Festival Disney Parade Competitions.
Schwartzer explained that the “typical” marching band is made up of “a cross section of students. A group of students are certainly band students but then there are students who are looking for an activity … either athletic or performative in nature … and are students who end up playing an instrument … who [are] looking for a home, a core group of people to be with.”
Alumni of the band have performed with the marching bands of West Virginia, Michigan, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Delaware, Northwestern, Gettysburg, Boston University, Arizona State, Syracuse, Towson, Virginia Tech, University of Southern California, Purdue, and more. One alumna, India Anderson, Class of 2017, went on to major in tuba performance at the University of South Carolina and became the school’s first female drum major.
When asked what has surprised him most about this experience, Schwartzer marveled at how “unique every group of students is very year to year … but it is also all so very similar. Over time, they’re all kids working together to achieve something very cool.”
Schwartzer noted there are many ways to support the marching band. Come out to games and competitions to clap loudly, or encourage your student (if you have one) to try it out and see what it is like. Donations (monetary, in-kind, volunteer time) are always welcome. Donations to the 15th Anniversary fund can be given here. Want to wear MBG merch? You can buy some for a limited time by clicking here.
On Wednesday October 13 only, stop by at Shake Shack in Princeton with a flyer or code and Shake Shack will donate 25% of the proceeds for those sales to the MBG (click here for flyer).
For more coverage about the MBG please see:
– Band to the Ready, HVCHS Marching Black and Gold – https://mercerme.com/band-to-the-ready-hvchs-marching-black-and-gold/
– Promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tds0jTVA4uw
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