The Stone High Pride staff of directors were prepared to accept second place and be happy with that.
Then, the P.A. announcer said New Augusta was the runner-up.
The realization dawned that the Pride was the 2019 4-A state champion.
“We thought whichever band won in music would be the champion,” Stone County School District Director of Bands Ida Mitchell said. “The way the other categories scored, that made sense and we were happy to have finished second.”
Instead, the effort of her band members had resulted in the school’s first state title in 13 years.
The Pride earned first-place in percussion, something Mitchell believes to be a first, first in visual, took second in color guard [“That’s never happened,” she said,] third in general effect and third in music.
“The kids were 100 percent all in,” she said. “They were just willing to do anything we asked of them.”
One of the things asked of them were a change in the program implemented at the 11th hour.
“They learned the change in a day and pulled it off,” Mitchell said.
She was quick to point out the fact the championship was the result of a community-wide effort.
“The parents who built all those props and kept us fed, the people in the stands who provided encouragement, it was truly a community effort,” she said.
In addition, the band got a huge boost following Friday’s varsity football victory over Forrest County AHS.
Coach John Feaster had a banner made wishing the Pride good luck at state and the football team unfurled it and walked it over to the band in the stands.
“I’ve been teaching 36 years and that was one of the coolest moments I’ve seen,” Mitchell said. “That, I believe, impressed upon [the band members] how much support they had. That the football team, with all they have to do and as hard as they’re working, took the time to support them like that.”
The Pride joins the Stone High Tennis Team as 2019 MHSAA state champions.