Copiague High School Band
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History of the Band
The 80’s
In 1984 the Copiague School District reorganized the instrumental music program and within seven years All-State students became an annual occurrence. The seeds of our current day marching program were sewn on a cold night in New Jersey at an EMBA Championship. The students attending believed that they could be better than some of the bands who were competing. The competitive fires were lit and a Band Camp and a field show program was developed for the 1985 season.

The early beginnings for our Band were humble. The uniforms the Band wore were so old that one freshman commented that the name in his uniforms was his mother’s. The Colorguard wore uniforms that were rescued from West Babylon’s basement and our flags were whatever color material that could be donated. Mr. and Mrs. Wevers sewed the flags. Mrs. Wevers father built the first podium. We persevered and the Band developed in an incremental way as have many bands.

For our first season, a Colorguard Instructor (Yvette Bauer) and a Percussion Instructor (Chris Bauer) were hired to help start the Band. The band scored a _ in their first show in Brentwood. Mr. Wevers wrote the drill and the music. Our principal Arthur Gressel came along as a chaperone and had tears in his eyes as he saw Copiague on the field for the first time. One of our first band parents was our Junior High school Band Director, Bob Torns. Our Band placed third of three bands in every show that season but everyone in our Band thought that we could win the next year. In 1986 the Band won every competition except the Championship. We won our first championship caption award, Best Percussion in Group I. In the year 1987 the Band had its first drill writer, the late Dave King and our first music arranger, the late Bob Pearson. Debby Libby became our Colorguard Instructor. “Miss Mack (Borzello),” a teacher at the High School began to help out with the Colorguard. We lost our first show by .9, our next by .6, the next by .35 and the Championship by .015! In 1988 we finally replaced our nineteen year old uniforms and we created a new look and a new attitude for Copiague. Unfortunately, 1988 was a year of great frustration for our Band as our new found success caused us to grow in size and we were moved up to Group II. Lindenhurst was the perennial champion and an annual Atlantic Coast Championship favorite. Some felt the decks were stacked against us but we continued to grow in size and quality until 1990 when the Band first began to surpass Lindenhurst in sub captions.

The 90’s
The year of 1990 was the dawn of a new decade and the Band was on the verge of becoming very good. The Band was still essentially taught by three people, the Band Director, Chris Bauer and now Debbie Libby as the Colorguard instructor. The first important award was won when Dave Chicarelli’s Drumline won their first Pearl Percussion Award at Giants Stadium, beating Lindenhurst in Drums. The Band had a great season finishing second behind Lindenhurst (as usual) at the Long Island Championship, but notice was served that Copiague had arrived. In 1991 we had our breakthrough year. We were finally given permission to organize a Band Parents Association. The staff was expanded to include Frank Ponzo to help develop our marching style and we won our first Championship title. Our win meant that we were selected for the Atlantic Coast Championship in Scranton, Pa. where we placed eleventh of twenty four. We made our first trip to the Citrus Bowl where we won Best Percussion of all Bands and were declared “First Runner Up.” A great disappointment was realized in 1992 as the Band finished second to Mahopac in Giants Stadium playing “Adventures on Earth.” Our Drumline, led by Joe Borawski (now Dr. Joe) finished second by .1. The Band entered 1993 with a great sense of anticipation. We had some staff changes. Jimmy Walsh came on as our Guard guru and Dave Chicarelli joined our staff in his first season as an instructor. At Giants Stadium we won Best Music, Best Drums, and Best Colorguard. Unfortunately we did not get a drill instructor until the last three weeks of the season and we finished 6th in marching. A Championship title was not to be ours this year.

The beginning of 1994 was the start of what we knew to be a great Band someday. Our most talented class to date came in as freshman and we moved towards a classical program with the Korean Folk Song. In 1995 we thought we had a chance to win. Rich Guillen wrote his first show for us, “The Sound of Music.” It was our first year to go to the Dome and we didn't know what to expect. We came in 2nd in the A Class. At Giants Stadium we played in a ‘nor easter had a frustrating 3rd place finish, if by .35! Everyone everywhere knew that 1996 was going to be our year. Some remember the “year of the Erika/Erica’s, Jen Sasser and Christine Kern.” Rich wrote a great show of “Festival Overture” and “Swan Lake.” Gene Bennett wrote his first drill for us and we took the Dome by storm. That performance was shown on PBS on Thanksgiving Day. Winning at Giants Stadium meant we had our first Undefeated Championship Season! The Town of Babylon erected the first of four signs at the corners of Great Neck and Dixon. When we planned for 1997 we knew that this would be the most talented band that we had ever had. A Championship title was not to be and we moved towards 1998 with a smaller band but a dedicated group. Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting it Together” was our theme as we attempted to rebuild our Band. Shari Newman and Kathy Collins assumed the responsibility for our Colorguard. Ed Tumminelli joined the staff to help with our woodwinds and drill. The Band never won a weekly show and didn't place high at the Dome. We studied the tapes and a week later Jase English led the Band into Giants Stadium and we rocked the house outscoring our nearest competitor by 5 points. We won our third Pearl Drum Award and swept all the awards in the show. In 1999 we entered a new era when Bruce McCready began writing drill for the Band and we finished second at Giants Stadium by .5 while winning all the visual awards.

The New Millenium
The years 2000 and 2001 were building years as we tried to develop a new culture of excellence. This all bore fruit in 2002 when we reprised our 1992 show “Adventures on Earth” in Frank Ponzo’s last season with the Band. We had a standard setting season where the Band reached the elite levels of competition in both New York State and the USSBA. We were Undefeated State Champions again. There was a new sign and there were all the accolades that come with being Champions. Who could believe that in 2003 we’d be even better. Finishing in the Dome with a 94.28….and in Allentown with a 95.1 and sweeping all the USSBA awards (again) meant that we had reached heights not imagined. Our GE Music score in the Dome was 3 rd in the State behind West Gennessee and Arlington. We were competitive with the Nationals and actually beat some in sub captions (it was reminiscent of our break out year of 1990 when we broke through the wall to the next level.)

Two Undefeated State Championship seasons in a row! In those two seasons we outscored 236 other bands from five states. Who could dream that it could get better than that? And that’s just what has happened to our Band. In 2004 Donny Allen wrote his first book for us based on the music of Gershwin. We were promoted to the LS 2 Class and competed against perennially winners Horseheads and Baldwinsville in the Field Band Conference. We finished third behind those bands and served noticed that we would needed to be watched. In the USSBA we were moved up to the VI Open Class competing against North Penn and South Brunswick (big time BOA bands) and finished fifth at Giants Stadium. The year 2005 was a continuation where we beat the rest of LS 2 by almost three points and for the first time beat National Class bands at the Dome. Our show Stan Kenton’s “Artistry in Rhythm” was declared a great GE show by none other than DCI judge Jeff Mitchell. When 2006 was over there was no doubt about it. We set the Dome on fire with our special show by Donny Allen entitled “The Behavior of Fire.” Copiague was now among the elite in New York having outscored three National Class bands and setting up a strong move into the National Class. The first band from Long Island to become a National. We continued to show the way to our friends and neighbors.


© 2004 Copiague Public Schools - www.copiague.k12.ny.us