West Platte band experienced march to remember in D.C.

Contributed photo The West Platte Marching Bluejays represented the state of Missouri in the National Memorial Day parade held May 25 in Washington, D.C. Members traveled with chaperones by bus. One small band of students from West Platte went on a giant trip to cap off the school year.The West Platte Marching Bluejays represented the state of Missouri in the National Memorial Day parade, held May 25 in Washington, D.C. The once-in-a-lifetime honor for the students was the culmination of miles of marching practice — measured one precise step at a time — and practice to memorize performance pieces.

But performing might have been the easy part.

A bus containing 32 band students and their instruments, seven chaperones, West Platte principal Logan Lightfoot and band director Rebecca Fillingham and her husband departed Weston, Mo. four days ahead of Memorial Day. To fill the time, students watched movies, played video games and took selfies.

Friends and family who were unable to participate kept up with the adventures of the group through various social media outlets. In addition to individual updates to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other apps, Sherry McGhay and several of the chaperones posted frequent updates to a Facebook page established expressly for this trip.

Utilizing technology, the experience was documented real-time and shared with a wide audience.

Contributed photo Members of the West Platte Marching Blue Jays pose for a picture in front of the White House while on a trip to represent the state of Missouri in the National Memorial Day parade held May 25 in Washington, D.C. Members traveled with chaperones by bus.

And there was plenty to see during the three-plus days spent in Washington D.C. The students were able to visit Jefferson Memorial, Pentagon 9-11 Memorial, White House, Union Station, Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima memorial, Ford’s Theatre, Library of Congress, tour of the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Arlington National Cemetery, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, National Mall and Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

The band also participated in three special events — all unique opportunities.

On May 22nd, they were part of a small crowd attending the Official Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks, highlighting “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band in full dress uniform, demonstrating their precise drill maneuvers and outstanding musical skills.

Prior to departing, the Marching Bluejays learned they would have the rare honor of placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. On Sunday, May 24, current and incoming drum majors Sarah Quattlebaum, Alicia Kottman, Connor McNair and Allesandra Cutolo-Ring represented the West Platte band in this solemn ceremony.

While the crowd observed in silence, Quattlebaum, Kottman, McNair and Cutolo-Ring joined the Army sentinel and placed a large wreath in front of the marble tomb. The wreath was adorned with a blue ribbon stating “West Platte Marching Blue Jays.”

That same day, the students and adults spread blankets on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol for the National Memorial Day Concert. This televised event featured the National Symphony Orchestra and included stories of military members told by celebrities such as Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna.

All of this led up to the reason for the trip.

During warmups for the parade, the band drew a small crowd that listened to the music and even took a few photos. Lining up for the parade and waiting seemed to last forever, but the Marching Bluejays were in top form when they reached the reviewing stand on Constitution Avenue and performed “Sing, Sing, Sing” in front of the local and television audience. They also performed “Kansas City,” which incited a few shouts of “Go Royals” from the crowd.

After a brief cool down, the group returned to the charter bus to begin the non-stop trip back to Weston, the students filling time with the same activities as before but this time with fresh memories of a unique experience on their mind. A less boisterous bunch, tired from the journey, arrived back in Weston on Tuesday, May 26.

Those attending the trip included: students — Bailey Gabbert, Jodi Meyer, Allesandra Cutolo-Ring, Sarah vonSeggern, Haley Fuller, Megan Kottman, Alicia Kottman, Alexandra LaRoe, Devin Learue, Harley Witter, Madison Schofield, Melinda Munn, Alexa Raney, Anne Wurtenberger, Alex Green, Rebecca McGhay, Dylan Lock, Madison Manley, Bennett Nowotny, Connor Penrod, Angel Robinson, Logan Lee, Austin Hammell, Addison Valentine, Quinn Johnson, Justin Howard, John Tharp, Ryan Manley, Andrew Cicha, Sarah Quattlebaum, Jonah Vandel and Connor McNair; adults — Robyn Meyer, Tanya Lock, Lisa Manley, Jeff Howard, John Wurtenberger, Sherry McGhay, Janice Ring, Logan Lightfoot, Matt Fillingham and Rebecca Fillingham