Marching Highlanders | COVER STORY Lauren Schaffter dances during an Anderson performance at a State Fair Band Day competition. A RICH TRADITION Anderson Community Schools has an impressive history of success at band day. Anderson High School, for example, has competed in the event for 61 consecutive years, a record unmatched by any other school in the state. The band’s record includes six championships, 46 Sweet 16 finishes, 47 top-10 finishes and 27 top-five finishes. Before they were closed because of consolidation, Madison Heights and Highland high schools also tallied impressive band day records. Madison Heights competed 29 times, achieving two championships, nine Sweet 16 finishes, 22 top-10 finishes and 13 top-five finishes. Highland High School competed 24 times, also winning six championships, 15 Sweet 16 finishes, 22 top-10 finishes and 18 top-five finishes. Marching bands trace their roots to ancient armies where musical instruments were used to deploy and recall troops. As communications improved, the role of musical instruments as tools of war declined. Instruments assumed a more ceremonial purpose – inspiration. Notre Dame is credited with starting the first college band. Created in 1842, The University of Notre Dame Band is the oldest college band (in continuous existence) in the United States. During the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, the band was declared a “Landmark of American Music” by the National Music Council, the Indiana Music Educators Association and Exxon Corporation. Purdue University also figures prominently in the evolution of marching bands. The Purdue “All-American” Marching band in 1907 became the first band to break military ranks and create a formation of any kind, the “Block P,” formation, according to the university’s marching band website. Upholding such traditions is not taken lightly by dedicated marching band members. “We know that expectations are higher,” Barnes says. “Our uniforms are different. We’re very rooted to this style of marching band. Because of the bagpipes, we feel very strong connections. Everybody really recognizes this as being part of the city and of Highland.” Honoring that legacy with Highland uniforms while performing for Anderson High School still riles some residents and even some students in school, Bouse says.