Southeast Bulloch High School’s marching band, "The Swarm," just completed its 2012 marching band competition season.
The last chance to see the band perform is during halftime of tonight’s home football game against Appling County.
The Swarm traveled around the state the past two months, participating in a four competitions.
With 40 freshmen on the squad and an overall increase of 30 members to work into the band’s marching show, expectations for the band back in August were somewhat uncertain.
"For years, we have always said we were in a rebuilding year, but this year we really meant it,” Swarm band director Matt Olsen said. “Luckily, most of the new kids were products of Southeast Bulloch Middle School band director Joey Mitchell's program. Therefore, they had many of the skills needed to quickly learn what it is to march and play at the same time."
Mitchell also is the assistant band director for the high school.
For the 2012 marching season, the Swarm played a show featuring five “hair band” songs from the 1980s, including Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. The band played in East Georgia Marching Band Festival competition at Statesboro High, Pierce County High School's Sounds of Silver competition, Henry County High School's Geranium City competition and South Effingham High School's Marching Mustang competition.
There were 10 bands in attendance last weekend at South Effingham's competition. The Swarm, with 88 members, was much smaller than the largest bands, which sported more than 150 performers.
After the preliminary competition, the Swarm earned straight "superiors," the highest grade possible, which was achieved by only four of the 10 bands competing. The percussion unit was then presented with a trophy for earning the highest grade of all drum units competing. The Swarm also received the Best in Class (AAA) trophy.
As a result of the high scores, the Swarm advanced to the evening's finals performance. When they took to the field, Mitchell, Sunni Holland and the Stingers raced back and forth in front of the crowd, getting them to their feet.
After all bands performed, the Swarm’s final performance of the competition season was rewarded with the third-highest marks overall, despite being the second-smallest band at the competition.
“Being in the Swarm is amazing,” said Logan McKenzie Ellis, a junior. “I couldn't ask for better friends or a better second family. I've been in band since sixth grade and for three amazing years at SEB. I can't wait for next year, although it's going to be a little weird not having the seniors with us."
John Strickland, a freshman, echoed Ellis’ feelings.
“Marching in the Swarm isn't just a thing to do,” Strickland said. “The Swarm is my family.”
In his first year as SEB Band Booster president, Ron Simmons said: “The Swarm's motto, ‘Adapt and Overcome,’ has never been truer this year, as we've had over 40 freshman this marching band season. They are all an awesome bunch of young men and women. The SEB leadership's has encouraged all of these young men and women to excel in everything they do, both on and off the field.”
The Swarm also developed a strong bond with the Statesboro High band. Statesboro took second in its class (AAAA) at the South Effingham competition.
SHS ban director Lee Collins said his greatest pleasure was seeing the close relationship between his band members and those of the Southeast Bulloch Swarm.
Collins said he was particularly impressed at a competition in Blackshear last month when SEB band members and their boosters stood, chanted SHS, and cheered loudly for his band as they entered the field for competition. They cheered despite the two bands actually competing against each other, he said.
Both bands will perform for the final time tonight during the halftime of their school's final 2012 home football games. Statesboro plays Cross Creek at Womack Field, and SEB plays Appling County at Fred Shaver Field. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.