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Representatives from the United States Army paid a visit to Daniel Boone High School on Wednesday. They were there to honor junior Daniel Higgins, who has been selected as a member of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. The 125-member band is comprised of high school musicians from across the country, and will play at half-time of the All- American Bowl in San Antonio Jan. 5. Higgins will be playing piano during the show.
Higgins was presented with his honorary band jacket and hat by Army Capt. Anthony Cevoli and Sgt. Samuel Brown during a ceremony at the school in front of band members, band teachers and representatives from the school district.
“This is so special, so very, very special, ” Boone High School Principal Thomas Hankel told the students who attended the ceremony. “What an honor. It’s days like this that make me proud to be the principal of this building.”
Cevoli said the teens selected as All-Americans possess the strengths of a soldier and live the army values of loyalty, duty, respect, honor, integrity and personal courage.
“They are dedicated, motivated and know how to be a member of a team as well as be a leader,” Cevoli said. “It is these strengths that have earned them the right to wear our colors – the colors of the US Army. Daniel embodies the characteristics and values of an Army-strong soldier, and we’re proud to have him on our team.”
Higgins normally plays tuba in the marching band. But one day, Marching Band Director Zachary Kuhn heard Higgins playing piano and thought he was really talented. Two weeks later, he heard from Brian Prato, director of operations for the All-American Bowl band program. Prato said the 2012 band was still in need of a piano player, but that the person had to be really good, because this year’s show starts with piano.
Kuhn said he immediately thought of Higgins and suggested it to him. Higgins put an audition piece together, made a video recording and sent is off for consideration.
“I got an email just before school started this year, telling me I had been selected,” Higgins said. “The whole house heard, in fact the whole neighborhood probably heard.”
Higgins is extremely excited to be part of the band. “It’s unspeakable,” he added. He said he’s also aware of just how big the honor is. One of 1,300 musicians that auditioned for this year’s band, he’s the first student from Daniel Boone High School to be chosen, and one of six from Pennsylvania this year.
Both Kuhn and Director of Bands Justin McAdams agree Higgins embodies the qualities of the All-American program.
“He’s dedicated and willing to go out of his way to help others. I look forward to seeing what he does in the future,” Kuhn said.
Prato said that once the band members are selected, they receive their music and drill charts, and it is up to them to get the music memorized and begin to learn the marching portion. In fact, Higgins said he had to send a video of himself playing the show opener, to show he had memorized the music.
Higgins and the rest of the band will travel to San Antonio on Dec. 31, and will spend the next four days working together for the first time to learn the show, which they’ll perform on national television Jan. 5. Prato said the days are basically 12 –hours of marching and playing practice, although there are some other activities added, including a tour of the Alamo.
The US Army All-American Bowl has been played for the last 12 years. The Marching Band was added six years ago.