LHS Marching Lancers Awarded Trophy!

On Thursday, March 20th the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee of Washington, D.C. announced the 2014 parade trophy winners: The Londonderry High School band and color guard were awarded the trophy for “Best Band” in the parade based upon presentation and musical performance. All eyes were smiling with the Irish as the Londonderry Marching Lancers played their St. Patrick trademark musical selection, Londonderry Air (Danny Boy). The 255-member unit marched two and one-half hours down Constitution Avenue in the 43rd Washington, D.C. Annual St. Patrick’s Parade on Sunday, March 16th.

And they didn’t stop there! On Monday, March 17th the Lancers Marching Band marched in the New York City St. Patty’s Day Parade. The band marched up 5th Avenue in NYC. They were awarded 1st place says a band news source.

Included in the award announcement by Parade Band Chairman, David D. Bowen to Londonderry Music Director Andy Soucy, were the comments, “I am still marveling about your students’ performance on Sunday here in Washington. What a magnificent group.”

When asked about winning the “Best Band” trophy, Andy Soucy replied, “The students worked hard to prepare for this performance and I am delighted for them that they were awarded this recognition. The students were excellent representatives for our school and town.”

Awesome job Lancers!



Day 3, A Tale of Two Cities

Day 3 dawned with the sun on the horizon and the promise of a very moderate day. The parade would go off hours before an expected snow storm. Breakfast was once again a choice of meats, waffles and eggs with the ever necessary coffee! Check out instructions were given to the students and they were sent back to their rooms to Change into their uniforms and finish packing. All the instruments were put on the busses and all the luggage was put on the equipment truck. Within 30 minutes we were at the Capitol. On the side facing the White House there are two sets of stairs that are blocked off. It was decided that there would be two picture spots, one from the reflecting pool looking toward the Capitol and the other from the visitor center side of the building. We also took pictures of just the color guard, those members of the band who are seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshman. This will be a nice picture to have as the students go through their school years.

Those seniors leaving want to get the most out of this trip and it would appear they have been given the opportunity to do so. With both the first and last night dances and the entertainment of the play last night, the seniors have certainly had a blast. As Mr. Soucy noted, the most meaningful part of the trip has been the visit to Peter Sohm’s gravesite at Arlington. The most enjoyable was the show at the Kennedy Center. The most impressive was the band playing in the parade. Their renditions of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” and “Danny Boy” were very well done. The most amazing was the visit to the White House. Knowing that we were able to have every student experience it was terrific. And, as he pointed it, the trip is not over yet!

We staged right next to the mall in front of the Hertzog Garden Gallery and ran through the music. The Lancers hadn’t had their instruments out since we arrived, but played as though they’d been practicing for days. Many people walking by stopped and took pictures of the band, especially the sousaphone players as they practiced their moves. It is incredible how they carry the heavy instruments, swing them around and generally make it look easy. The Tighe sisters, sophomore twins, were asked to carry the banner. Clair said she considered it an honor. Mr. Soucy asked them to carry the banner noting they are good marchers. Anna said she also likes to carry the banner but looks forward to playing her instrument (piccolo) when these parades are over.

The parade began on time and we were in the first section, about 20 groups back. In no time we were on the move. About 17 chaperones walked behind the band to assure a presence should they need something. One of the sousaphone players’ shoe came untied and a FOM volunteer ran up and tied it. We carry water and medical supplies in case something is needed. We saw a bunch of Londonderians there enjoying the parade. It was great to get shout outs from the side line.

After the parade we loaded the instruments back on the bus and allowed the girls to change into their street clothes first, while on the bus. The boys went next as the girls picked up their pre-ordered lunch from Subway along with Mack’s apples for desert. After the boys changed, got their meals and had a few minutes to eat them, the Lancers were on the move again. We made super time with one bathroom break and arrived in NYC to get on the Circle Line for our dinner cruise. We boarded early since we’d made such good time and were off with the additions of Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Parent for the cruise.

The cruise was two hours during which the Lancers got the best view of the Manhattan skyline in the dark, the Empire State Building with the yellow, green and white lights, the Chrysler building and the building that was built on the World Trade Center site. After an Italian buffet dinner, dancing was the order of the evening. The boat had two floors, the downstairs is completely enclosed with interior and exterior access to the upper deck. Sophomores Alisha Fernandez, Aanchal Gupta, Valerie Fernandez (senior), Sophomore Alexis Dionne, Shannon Sonia and Abby Wright all had been dancing in the enclosed upper deck and rushed out looking for some fresh air. It was understandable that given the temperature in the room was about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the outside is 30 degrees F, when the ladies finished dancing, they needed some fresh cool air. They all said it was great outside… for about a minute.

Ian Ferguson, a freshman, believed everything was going by so fast. He’d really enjoyed all the sights he’d seen but wished there was more time to enjoy each. “Even so,” he said, “it’s been a terrific trip.” Marissa McDonald, a junior, said she thought the parade was fun. “It was easy,” she said.

The boat docked, we got to the hotel, checked in and by 11 everyone, (except the chaperones!) were conked out. We have just the parade tomorrow so will be back in Londonderry before no time.


Tale of Two Cities Lancers on The Road – McLean Virgina

6PM Friday

The Marching Lancers are about an hour from their destination for the night in McLean, Virgina, reported Natasha Telschow, a sousaphone player. She also said,”it’s been a good trip so far. Iit feels like just another band trip, but on Monday it may hit me that it is my final band trip”. Natasha graduates this year.

Connor Maher, also a Senior, said, “this trip is a good one to end on”. He thinks the trip has, “excellent events”, and he is looking forward to The White House tour and the parade in Washington since he has never marched in a Washington, D.C. St. Patrick’s Day parade.

A Junior named Vicki said she is most excited for the harbor cruise which will happen on Sunday night in New York City. She expects it to be “absolutely incredible”. “So far”, she added,” it’s been a lot of sitting, but it will be worth it!”

Stay tuned throughout the weekend for updates via Twitter and the website from Londonderry Hometown Online News.


Londonderry Lancers in Florida, Day 4

The day began early for the sousaphone and drum line…report time was 6am. The instruments had to be taken from the storage room and brought to the busses for a 7:15 departure to the Hard Rock Cafe for breakfast. The report time for the rest of the group was 6:45. Chaperones diligently knocked on doors, woke their charges up while others stayed on the floors to roust the slow pokes. With busses loaded we were off.

Breakfast consisted of (you guessed it) scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries and French toast sticks. Of course, there was also juice, tea, coffee and biscuits. We were entertained by a HRC staff member who asked trivia questions, first about the Hard Rock and then about Londonderry. In anticipation of the band coming to breakfast, this staff member had done some research about our town. Students were able to correctly answer that Londonderry introduced the potato as well as other questions. Our host was quite impressed with our crew.

We had a full day with our park hopper pass and were able to visit both Universal Studios and Island of Adventure. Harry Potter is in the building, and what a building it is. As we walked through Jurassic Park we were treated to the joyful site of Hogsmead, the fictional town Harry and his friends visit when not at Hogwarts. But then we turned around and there is a magnificent structure…the castle that is Hogwarts. Inside no expense has been spared. There are pictures on the walls, but not the pictures we muggles are used to seeing. No, these pictures are pictures that move and have conversations with those who hang nearby, or pass nearby, as we did upon our entry to the ride. The wait was not long. This is not a busy week at the parks by any stretch of the imagination. For even the most popular rides the wait is less than 20 minutes. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter lives up to the hype. The castle experience is breathtaking. The ride within the castle puts the rider on an imaginary broom. The rider swoops, pivots, dives and soars above and around Hogwarts, through a quiddich match, away from a dragon on the loose and bumps by Malfoy attempting to de-broom the rider, as they ride to the final destination, the room of requirement. The rider is, of course, successful, but the experience is one that made some of our Lancers wishing it were real! Besides all the food and candy, (Berthy Botts every flavor beans, chocolate frogs) there is delicious butterbeer. It can be purchased cold or like a smoothly, frozen. Both ways are a delight to the pallet. Olivander has a wand shop and of course there is a joke shop. The window of the joke shop features a student throwing up into a bucket, which can be done to avoid classes with the taste of one of Fred and George’s concoctions.

Jurassic Park boasts a river cruise that takes the rider though the jungle and into the restricted area where the velociraptor is loose. There is a chase during which the boat climbs a high “mountain” only to plunge into the river drenching those inside. Body drying stations are available for just $5 a session.

The Lancers were given 2 food coupons for Universal, one for lunch nd one for dinner, different than the $30 food cards they had at Disney. The food coupons listed the restaurants the students could go to (which included BubbaGump, the NASCAR restaurant, the NBA restaurant, among others) or there were buffet type places were they could get a sandwich, burger, chicken tenders and fries, a drink and a cookie.

Sally and Bill Young, retirees, recent of Londonderry, found out we were going to be here and drove the hour from their Florida home to see the performances yesterday and the parade today. They are enamored with the music program and it was obvious they miss the opportunity to see the band at football games or in the gym, even if it means enduring the uncomfortable bleachers for the concert. Another woman from Nashua was pleasantly surprised to see the band, a neighbor from home, here at Universal as part of the afternoon’s daily parade. She said that she was surprised by the size of the band, commenting that she didn’t think there were that many people in Londonderry. The band rejoined the others in the park after changing back into street clothes. There was still two+ hours before the busses were to return and there was still more fun to have at the park.

A bunch of people had dinner at BubbaGump remembering the great fun they’d had there when they were in Baltimore. Others ate in the park so as to maximize ride time. Still others just relaxed in the park like setting in front of the “city hall” or played frisbee.

8:45 arrived and the masses descended on the exit to be sorted into bus assignments and counted before the walk back to the parking lot. Once aboard the bus students were informed that they were allowed to swim until 10:30 (when the pool closes) and that room checks would begin at 10:45. Tomorrow there are no performances. The Lancers will spend another day on the Universal properties and end the day with Cirque de Soleil.



Londonderry Lancers in Florida – day 1

Even before the first Lancer boards a bus to begin their trip anywhere there are weeks of preparation that has occurred and the trip to Disney is no difference.  These articles over the next few days will be about the Lancer students and their activities, but as someone who follows the budget process each year, it is important for Londonerians (Londonderryites?) to know what is involved and the fact that all the planning, the costs of the bus transportation, the cost of the plane transportation, the cost of the hotel, food or destination transportation does not cost the taxpayers as a whole a penny.  This cost falls squarely with the parents and students who are part of the experience.

Additionally, there are 27 parent volunteers, members of the Friends of Music, who have paid for the privilege of assuring the Lancers are safe, are where they are supposed to be with the uniform and equipment they need, and remain in their rooms throughout the nights they are on the trip.  They deal with the drama, the scrapes, the headaches and stomach aches that invariably occur with the trip and the numbers involved.

Lancers began arriving at LHS at 2:15 (call time was 2:45) in anticipation of the school bus ride down to Logan airport for the 6 and 7am flights.  There were 80 Lancer passengers on the flight which held 100 passengers in all.  The students were complemented by both the flight staff and passengers as we got off the plane.

We were greeted at the airport by a person who directed us to our busses.  We were shuttled to the hotel to drop off our carry on luggage, received our “pawk hoppers” from the travel company liaison as well as our meal tickets (prepaid debit cards) of $30. Lancers were asked to put their names on the back and take a picture.  This will allow Disney to replace the cards should they be lost.  Lancers then reloaded the busses for the short ride to the park that used to be called Disney, MGM but is now called Hollywood Studios.

The next bus arrived about ½ hour behind us; group three was in the park by noon but group 4, the last group didn’t arrive until nearly 3:30.  Even with the sky overcast and threatening but everyone was quite eager to get to the park.  The Lancers were given their marching orders, each in turn as they arrived,  and released.  Many immediately went to the two rides which hold the most appeal for the 13-18 year old crowd, the Tower of Terror and the Rock and Roll-a-coaster.  Both offer speed passes so a rider can get a speed pass, wait in the regular line, ride and then in the speed pass line to immediately ride again. I know a few who took advantage of this.

The Rock and Rollacoaster features music by Aerosmith, a completely enclosed roller coaster complete with twists, turns and upside down action) as well as near complete darkness.  The tower of terror, now named the Hollywood Hotel is from the old Twilight Zone television show when a lightning storm kills four guests and a bellman in the early 1900’s and they end up haunting the place.  Guest of the park sit in an “elevator” that takes us up a couple of flights and then moves from the back of the building to the front of the building as we enter the twilight zone.  The room is pitch black and the only light comes from the twinkling stars so common on the show.  Then, without warning the car drops and the riders flies off the seat.  We are, of course, seat belted into the seat, but it is not so tight that there aren’t a few inches of air between the riders’ bottom and the seat each time it plunges.  It is frightening as the seat moves up higher in the building and then drops again, and again, and just when it must be over….again!

There are other things to see…actors reenacting the story of Beauty and the Beast; audience and stunt actors recreating scenes from Indiana Jones; park hopefuls trying for a spot on American Idol; back stage tours and a completely cheesy, but still fun look at movies from the chaperone’s and our parent’s youth (Casablanca, Pubic Enemy, Mary Poppins, Aliens, The Searchers, Terminator), the muppets, animation creation and much, much more.

It rained a couple of times during the day…torrential down pours that caught some of the Lancers without ponchos (which run anywhere from $7.95 to $9.95 in the park and $3.99 at the hotel) as well as some of the chaperones.  There is plenty of shelter in the park, stores, indoor exhibits and shows, so there was still plenty to do in spite of the rain.

The group was all prompt to return to the front of the park at 7:45 and gathered in their bus groups.  We returned to the hotel and found room keys labeled, staff stationed in various places throughout the route to our rooms (boys in one building, girls in another) and with very few room issues the group was quickly settled.

First night FOM’s check uniforms to assure that the students brought everything they needed.  Our 7 rooms (each with four students in them) all had what they needed for their performances.  Tomorrow is the Disney parade.


Lancers Await the Start of the Parade Audio Podcast

Around 1:30 today and call was made to our embedded reported Eric Gesualdo ( a news reporter for the Lancer Spirit newspaper).  Eric explained that they had just gone through security and was now on the bus receiving boxed lunches.  The Lancers have been having a great time on their trip.  Eric loved the sights and sound of Baltimore.  The kids had a wonderful time and enjoyed dinner at Sabatino’s.   Eric and Lauren Holahan have been keeping us informed with tweets and pictures.  A bald eagle makes a perfect visit to the trees near the pentagon during the Presidents speech.  Eric finished off with the bands plans after the parade they expect to head to Bubba Gump Shirmp.

We also got a chance to speak with Drum Major Jenica Arsenault about the trip and how the day is been going.  When the band passes by the reviewing stand Jenica said it is going to be pretty hard to keep eyes straight and not turn her head to look at the President and First Lady.