â€œStrength, determination and teamwork â€” these are the strengths that give them the right to wear the colors of the U.S. Army,â€ Lt. Ryan Cermely said of East Lincoln High School band students Jake Ballard and Alaina Seidle.
With the entire school body watching and cheering them on, the two seniors were officially inducted into the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Marching Band during a special ceremony Tuesday afternoon in the Mustangsâ€™ gymnasium.
The students also received honorary jackets and hats.
Itâ€™s the first time in school history that two band students have been honored as U.S. Army All-American
Marching Band members. In 2009, senior band student Cory Gudger, a French horn player, was accepted to play in the distinguished band. In addition, two former North Lincoln students were also selected in years past.
Jake and Alaina were chosen among six applicants from East Lincoln and among 1,300 applicants nationwide.
Only 125 total high school band students are actually selected to play in the army band each year. The selected students get to play two musical movements during the halftime show of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which features only the top football players from various high schools across the country. For the last several weeks, The U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour has been traveling around the nation honoring both football players and band students. Their next stop includes Crest High School in Shelby.
This is the 12th year of the bowl game and only the fifth year that a student band has been selected. The game will be aired live on NBC in January from the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX.
East Lincoln band director Brent Harris, who prior to taking on the groupâ€™s top leadership role, served four years as the bandâ€™s brass technician. He also couldnâ€™t have been more thrilled to have two of his students selected.
â€œI wish I could clone them and have a whole band of them,â€ he said jokingly.
He considers Jake, one of the bandâ€™s trumpet players, and Alaina, a flute and piccolo connoisseur, to be â€œwell-rounded studentsâ€ who are â€œextremely responsibleâ€ and talented.
â€œTheir sections are both better because theyâ€™re in them,â€ Harris said. â€œThey influence everyone around them.â€
Both students have been in the band since freshman year and have received numerous top honors throughout their high school careers including accolades such as All-County and All-District. Theyâ€™ve each even been a part of the Winthrop Invitational Honors Band Clinic.
In addition, Alainaâ€™s even played for the UNC-Greensboro Honor Band, and for the last two years, has taken over the role of drum major at East Lincoln High School. She was also honored last school year along with the rest of the Mustangsâ€™ winter guard as being the number one seeded Winter Guard team in the Scholastic A classification in the Winter Guard International circuit.
â€œSheâ€™s a very talented musician,â€ her mother Renea Seidle said. â€œShe deserves it.â€
Her family was also proud to have her play for the military sponsored band since her dad is an army veteran and her brother is currently serving in the Air Force.
â€œThereâ€™s a long tradition in military service,â€ Renea said of the Seidle family.
Alaina, who began playing flute in fourth grade and picked up the piccolo in ninth grade, plans to attend Western Carolina University in the fall where sheâ€™ll major in secondary English education and join the Catamount marching band and wind ensemble.
â€œIâ€™ve been really influenced by a lot of teachers,â€ Seidle said. â€œThatâ€™s why I want to be a teacher when I grow up.â€
Jake, on the other hand, isnâ€™t completely certain of his path after high school but is fairly confident that heâ€™ll pursue an engineering degree. He also said he has no desire to ever stop pursuing music, even if he doesnâ€™t major or minor in the art.
â€œMusic is unique,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s like no other sport or extracurricular activity.â€
In the seventh grade, Jake was inspired to play trumpet and follow in his fatherâ€™s footsteps. He even currently uses his fatherâ€™s trumpet in the band.
He also thanked his fellow band mates for their support and gave them a special shout out from his podium microphone during Tuesdayâ€™s ceremony.
â€œAll my band geeks out thereâ€”you guys are great,â€ he said.
He additionally thanked his mother for allowing him to receive trumpet lessons in middle school.
The event was considered by U.S. Army All-American Selection Tour officials to be a â€œunique celebration of American youth and the American soldier.â€
â€œIt takes a special musician to be selected,â€ Lt. Cermely said. â€œThey are dedicated, motivated and know what itâ€™s like to be a part of a team.â€