PSO Finals Recap

By Kathryn Hardison

Thirty-eight drumlines competed for their spot in Scholastic Open Finals competition. Here’s the 15 groups that made it to UD Arena:

Clear Brook HS (Gold – 96.538) took you to an ancient castle in Europe to highlight the lives of the ones you probably don’t pay attention to— the gargoyles. In their performance, entitled “Set in Stone,” these gargoyles fought for their freedom from the tops of a stained glass-covered castle. The members wore dark costumes and masks to embody the stone figures. These gargoyles had a rough life, and the group expressed that through their performance of wanting to be freed from an eternity of stone.

If you ever thought about making a trip to Mars, you’d think again after seeing Old Bridge HS’s (Silver – 95.475) performance of “Visitor.” A U.S. space shuttle landed on the red dirt planet, disrupting its inhabitants. These aliens were decked in head to toe gray uniforms that made it clear they were anything but human. This performance had the audience cheering after the aliens killed the human and drug him all the way off the floor. Old Bridge HS was named the PSO fan favorite.

Everything about Victor J. Andrew HS’s (Bronze – 94.525) performance of “Breathe” was the opposite of its namesake — it was breathtaking. From the illuminating bass heads to the use of wind chimes and a flute solo, their performance was incredibly unique. Members wore white and gray uniforms as they marched on their green and purple-swirled floor to the sound of a heart monitor. The audience was so entranced by the group’s show, which reminded you to breathe.

This ensemble had the crowd entranced with its natural performance of “Cocoon.” Sparkman HS (4th – 94.250) members wore green and purple uniforms as they transformed from a caterpillar into a butterfly. A giant cocoon that sat on the light-colored floor opened during the show to reveal a butterfly that had just finished metamorphosis. The members of the ensemble showed off their new wings, which were a beautiful addition to the members’ costumes. This ensemble could have flown away, and their beautiful performance left the audience speechless.

Union HS’s (5th – 92.300) show, “Invictus: A War Within” put you in the heart of a war that would have taken place pre-1900. Members were dressed in red velvet uniforms as they marched around barbed wire props. The audience roared from the group’s use of rifle choreography and military snare drums. This was a war you wouldn’t want to get in the middle of — the aggressive music and fierce expressions on the members faces made it clear that they weren’t going to step down.

Lawrence Township (6th – 92.138) created a suspension bridge in their performance, entitled “Suspension.” The group’s black and green striped uniforms popped against the gray bridge backdrops. With a metal structure and rope, the group told a powerful story of a suspension bridge that collapsed. The unique sounds that the group created with metal bars had your heart racing as you watched the story unfold before you.

Cy-Fair HS (7th – 91.025) didn’t forget to pack their fire-breathing dragon for the trip to Dayton this year. In their show, “Order of the Dragon,” this animated group brought a dragon to life from its remains with their music. The audience went wild for this group’s fierce performance, per the order of the dragon.

These geniuses are a force to be reckoned with. Plymouth Canton Community Schools’ (8th –89.888) performance of “Calculating Infinity” left you dizzy from calculations and the intense energy that they brought to UD Arena. The group wore purple and white uniforms masked with mathematical equations that matched their floor. The audience was left energized, not to mention impressed by their ability to calculate infinity.

Trumbull HS’s (9th – 89.175) performance of “Evol” left the audience with full hearts. The show was about a girl who “evolved” from a dark, hard-hearted person to someone who’s heart was overflowing with love. The red and pink props popped against the white flooring, and the emotional music captivated the audience.

Timber Creek HS (10th – 87.538) sailed to UD Arena on a pirate ship for their performance of “Sail.” The group told a story of a man who dreamed to be out on the sea, but has been imprisoned by some high-energy pirates. Every member was dressed in a tailcoat covered in blue compasses and pirate boots. The members used wooden barrels and lanterns to make you feel like you were really on a pirate ship. The audience was left speechless when the pirates ended the show by throwing the prisoner overboard.

In South County’s (11th – 87.525) show, “Solitary,” the members showed you what it would be like to go mad from a life behind bars. With their striped costumes and prison cell props, it was undeniable that these members had been in solitude for years and were trying to hold onto the last bit of sanity they had. The audience was entranced by the intensity that these performers exuded.

Arcadia HS’s (12th – 86.713) show, “Crimson,” had your heart racing. With dark red and gray uniforms and a matching floor, the performance screamed its namesake. Their show was centered around the blood that runs through your veins, what makes your heart race and what you’re passionate about. The energy of this group was contagious.

Norwalk HS (13th – 86.300) brought the sea to UD Arena in their show, “Two Drops in the Ocean.” With underwater backdrops and a seashore on each side of the floor, the audience watched as two lonely drops of water in the ocean went on a journey to find each other. The group wore blue, shiny uniforms that matched the underwater theme and used props like jellyfish to put the audience in the middle of the sea.

You might feel like you’re being watched after seeing Greenfield-Central HS’s (14th – 85.400) show, “Watching You.” The group performed in red, blue and black uniforms that were covered in numbers and eyeballs, which matched the floor. The use of security cameras, spotlights, and security footage that played on TV screens illustrated the concept that you’re being watched. The screens showed real-time images of the group performing, images from social media, and what the audience looked like during the performance. The music was intense, which left the crowd roaring.

Boswell HS’s (15th – 83.225) show “Before it’s Too Late,” reminded us that time is fleeting. With larger than life cut outs of clocks, clock hands and gears, the concept of time was undeniable. These energized members wore bright blue and gold costumes with plastic skirts. The bass drums were completely clear, and the performers used lights to shine through them to create a unique effect. This intense performance left the audience wondering what they would do with the time they had left.


About the Author: Kathryn Hardison is a journalism student at the University of Missouri, majoring in news reporting and minoring in political science. Prior to college, Kathryn went to Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri, where she marched the flute in the fall and played the cymbals for the Kickapoo Indoor Drumline. During her four years in marching band, Kathryn competed with the Kickapoo Golden Arrow Marching Band, of which she later became the flute soloist and junior and senior flute section leader. Kathryn’s career in the Kickapoo Indoor Drumline included placing 8th in PSA World Championship finals in 2015 and a reclassification to PSO. After college, Kathryn plans to write for a newspaper.