Memorial Middle School forms first-ever marching band


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – For the very first time, Memorial Middle School has a marching band. After some donations from a few high schools and Groove Inc., they are now the second middle school in the Sioux Falls School District to have one.

As they get older, kids tend to make a lot of noise. At Memorial Middle School, eighth-grader McKenzie Swearingen is also making some as a member of the marching band.

“I started percussion when I was in 5th grade so I started with drums and mallets then, but I kind of knew how to play the mallets because I started playing piano when I was in second grade,” Swearingen said.

She plays the snare drums.

“They’re a lot louder than the normal snares and the drum-line is really loud,” Swearingen said.

Not only is this her first time playing the snare drums, but it’s the school’s very first marching band.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but we kind of had to wait till all the pieces fell into place: we needed drum line equipment, marching horns and things like that,” Head Band Director John Laughlin said.

From tubas to trumpets, there are over 190 students involved.

“My goal was 150, so I’m glad that we got some extra kids in there,” Laughlin said.

They’ve already played two shows, including the LifeScape parade, but it’s taken a lot of practice.

“People learning different skills and advancing at their instruments and getting better,” Swearingen said.

Max Hofer: Do you feel like you’ve gotten better at snares?
McKenzie Swearingen: Yes

“I’ve been just really impressed with how they’ve stepped up to the challenge, and I’ve definitely put them through the paces, especially these last couple of weeks, helping to build up their stamina while they’re marching,” Laughlin said.

“And it’s hard work, but it’s a lot of fun,” Swearingen said.

For other kids looking to get into band, Laughlin shares this advice:

“Have a good work ethic and patience and be willing to do a little extra work to be successful,” Laughlin said.

For students like Swearingen, she’ll soon be hitting all the right notes.

Max Hofer: Would you say you’re the best?
McKenzie Swearingen: Um… I’m probably not the best, but I’m probably up there.

Swearingen is looking to continue with marching band in high school. The band had their last practice for the season on Friday but will start up again early next year.

The marching band lines up for an early morning practice.

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