By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published October 13, 2011
The marching Golden Lions of St. Pius X High School successfully competed in the Oct. 1 Lake Lanier Tournament of Bands, an annual band competition held at Chestatee High School Stadium, Gainesville. The St. Pius marching band captured first place among all AA bands and first place in the silver division. Their drumline and flagline also took second place among AA bands.
The band competition is divided into five different classifications (A, AA, AAA, AAAA, and Open), based on actual band size, unlike school enrollment when it comes to sports. The silver division includes all A and AA bands, while the gold division includes AAA, AAAA, and Open classifications. There were 17 bands competing in this year’s Lake Lanier Tournament of Bands, eight in the silver division and nine in the gold division. The rules state that any band can move up to a higher classification to compete, but cannot move down a class. Awards are given for each class, then overall band awards for the divisions.
“We are a size A band, but these days our students compete mostly in AA, sometimes even in AAA, which we are doing on Oct. 15 at the Collins Hill High School contest. It all depends on how many bands are in those bigger categories and whether or not we think we can compete well. Being first place is not what we shoot for. We rehearse to perform our very best,” said Chad Paetznick, St. Pius director of bands.
St. Pius currently has 55 members in its band: 25 brass and woodwind players, 10 percussionists, 19 flagline members and one drum major (conductor).
Paetznick said the students enjoy the challenge of competing against bigger bands.
“We perform competitive arrangements of fun, popular music, which makes it entertaining for the audiences and judges, and most important, fun for the band students. We are smaller than a lot of bands in numbers, but the band students work very hard and are very dedicated. I always push them to prepare themselves for success,” said Paetznick.
During the Lake Lanier Tournament of Bands, St. Pius competed against bands with as many as 87 members.
From 1980 to 2005, St. Pius did not have a marching band. Band took the form of a concert or pep band. The school’s marching band, as it exists today, was not revived until Paetznick’s arrival in 2005. A 30-member Golden Lion Marching Band performed for the first time on Aug. 19 of that year.
Paetznick is assisted by Michelle Edwards, flagline instructor, and Clay McCloud, choreography instructor.