Marching Through Time
The Silver Knight’s Marching Band is a family that provides Tyler County with music and memories.
“The band members put the group before themselves,” longtime Band Director Wayne Smith said. “They work hard as a team to achieve more.”
The small 30-member band wins battles all the time with its most recent victory as capturing top honors at the West Virginia State Marching Band Invitational in October. During this battle royale of the 36 marching bands at Laidley Field in Charleston, the Silver Knights were awarded first runner-up Grand Champion Band in Class A. Gilmer County from 1A was the Class A champion. Other bands in Class A competition with the Knights included Richwood, Magnolia, St. Mary’s Pocahontas County, Tug Valley and Fayetteville.
Molly Rine, a senior who plays snare drum, said the state invitational is where the best of the best perform, so it was exciting to see other top-notch bands perform.
“It was great and probably one the best competitions I’ve been to because of the different bands learning and watching them to what to expect,” she said.
Smith said the band family spends a lot of time together. During July, band members complete drills and more for two to three hours a day so as to be ready for to perform for large crowds gathered near and far for football games. This highly disciplined team works sometimes as much as seven hours a day while at band camp. Much like gridiron athletes, band members practice two to here hours a day after school to be ready for Friday night lights.
“I’m more close to the people in band than I am the student body because we spend so many hours together,” Morris said.
Dedication is a hallmark of Silver Knights’ success.
“Their commitment to each other is demonstrated in their near perfect rehearsal attendance through the summer and fall,” Smith said. “Band members know if they are not there, it has a negative effect on the band as a whole.”
Smith described the 30-member band as a close-knit family.
“It is small enough for everyone to know each other well,” he said.
A point echoed by Morris, who has been with the band since she was in sixth grade.
“We’re always supporting each other and we are there when someone needs help,” said Marisha Morris, a senior who plays clarinet. “We show respect for one another and never put anyone down because we are part of one big organization, much like a big family.”
Band members share a sense of camaraderie.
“We get along very well,” said Rine, a seven-year member of the band. “We work hard and cope well together. And we watch out for everyone. We think as a group as a unit. We have to do this if we are going to be able to perform.”
Morris tells the story about how she recently was accepted to West Virginia University Parkersburg.
“When I found out I got into WVU-P, I told my family first of course, but the band was first to know,” said Morris, who plans to study pediatric oncology in hopes that someday she may find a cure for cancer.
After nearly 30 years of teaching, Smith is retiring from Tyler County Schools at the end of the school year in 2016. He has been band director for decades. Walls around the band room are decorated with trophies among other honors that the Silver Knights have won during his tenure.
“Mr. Smith is like a father to all of us,” Rine said. “He’s there all the time. You can ask him anything. He cares about us always has.”
Smith offered praise to Assistant Band Director Sally Conklin among band staff and volunteers including Brain Bailey, the percussion instructor; Matt Jennings, low bass; Cindy Smith, woodwinds; Martin and Beverly Parrish, support staff; Sabrina Kyle, band patron president; April Kimble, vice president; Stacey Wade, secretary; and Barbie Tanley, treasurer.
“These people are like family to the students in the band,” Smith said.
For posterity, Smith provided the Silver Knights’ Marching Band roster: Julian Work, field commander; Jasmine Kyle, Sydney White, Shianne Ferrell, Emily Jackson all flute; Marisha Morris, Hannah Ankrom, Jennifer Lynch, Briana Wade all clarinet; Kia Barnhart, Becky Bolin, Brittany Weekley, Aleah Baker all alto sax; Mackenzie Drake, tenor sax; Kalie Shanabarger, Ross Gorby, Jerrick Mercer, Ryan Jones, Makenzie Kimble all trumpet; Scott Gorby, Jessica Kimble, Ellie Howell and Ted Stackpole all trombone; Justin Phillips, tuba; Alex Lohr, multiple toms; Brannon Jones, Molly Rine both snare drum; and Allyson Yoho, Zack Jones and Donald Boyd all bass drum.
This group of marching musicians won first place at the Spencer Black Walnut Festival and they were Grand Champion Division II at the Ripley Band Contest.
When the music stops for Morris, she will have memories that last a lifetime.
“When this is over, I’m going to be very upset because I cherish band a lot,” she said. “It’s the main thing I do in in my life. It will be sad to see this chapter of my life end.”