CRANBERRY TWP — Athletes and parents at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic football games this year may have heard an unfamiliar sound.
For the first time in 10 years, the school once again has a marching band.
“We're really building the program from the ground up,” band director David Emanuelson said. “We are small, but mighty.”
The marching band has 13 student members — 11 instrumentalists and two color guard members. Members performed in the stands and on the field for home and away football games this year.
The halftime show for this year was “The Music of Queen,” with the band performing hit songs from the rock band of the same name.
“I saw the lack of school spirit at the football games my first three years of high school, so I decided to help start up a marching band in hopes to increase the spirit at the football games,” said senior Matthew Beck.
Beck has been playing saxophone for about 11 years now. He also is the band's co-president.
“I was filled with joy that I could become the first member of the CWNC marching band,” Beck said. “My grandfather was part of the first ever North Catholic marching band back when the school was first opened on Troy Hill.”
The school had a marching band at its former Troy Hill location until 2016.
The band competed in the Tournament of Bands Competition circuit in the 1990s and 2000s, accumulating numerous awards and accolades. It finished in the top 10 in 2001 in the Atlantic Coast Championships for the competition.
However, dwindling numbers caused the program to fold.
“The uniforms we wear today are the last uniforms that the marching band wore on Troy Hill before the band dissolved,” Emanuelson said.
Along with Emanuelson, the band is aided by a drill designer and a color guard coach. The band also was assisted this summer by the band director for Seton La Salle.
“The marching band program has exceeded my expectations this year,” Emanuelson said. “For some of these kids, this is the first time they've ever had to move and play at the same time.”
Other student band members said they were excited at being part of the resurging music program.
“I was thrilled that the thing I promised my friend that I would do our freshmen year was actually happening,” said sophomore color guard member Anastasia Weigand.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed playing in the school's bands, and I have learned a lot and become a much better musician,” said sophomore trumpet player Justin Higgins.
The school's concert band also has seen growth since its inaugural year in 2015.
The concert band has 24 students: 16 in class and eight as extracurricular, an increase from seven total members.
The school also started a jazz ensemble in October consisting of 13 student musicians.
Emanuelson said the bands might perform at local festivals and parades in the near future.
“The challenge is trying to make bands cool,” he said. “Predominantly now it's a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are involved. It will naturally build upon itself.”