If you happened to be driving past Mt. Horeb School in the predawn hours of Wed, Aug. 2, you may have wondered aloud as a huge caravan of buses and trucks arrived, with weary teens and adults filing out onto the elementary campus normally so quiet during these dog days of summer.
The convoy belongs to The Cadets, one of the world’s oldest continually operating drum and bugle corps. The group of about 150 young adults and 30 staff members and volunteers stopped in Warren at Mt. Horeb School for some much needed rest before moving onto their next competitive performance in Clifton.
“Oh boy,” says Kevin Carlsen, a 20-year-old trumpet player from Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, when asked to how many states over how many days the corps has travelled. “It’s about 17 states in 85 days.”
The Cadets are one of about 45 drum corps who tour the country each summer, performing nightly in stadiums across the United States. Each corps is made up of brass musicians, percussionists, and a color guard. The group travels as a self-contained unit with tour buses, equipment trailers, a mobile kitchen, instructional staff and a team of parent volunteers.
“Every day I wake up and think ‘where are we?’” says 18-year-old Amelia Wang, a color guard member from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “It’s intense, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Typically, a drum corps like this spends overnights between performances in high schools where members have access to showers and rehearsal facilities. On this particular drive up from a late performance in Annapolis, Maryland, however, this group just needed a place to lay their heads for several hours.
Warren Township Schools Superintendent Dr. Matthew Mingle, Business Administrator Patricia Leonhardt, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Michael Pate and Mt. Horeb Head Custodian Luis Marciscano and his crew worked together to make sure all was in order for the unique visit.
“It is wonderful to be able to support a group of dedicated young people. The level of drive and determination it takes to persevere through the challenges of a summer drum corps season prepares participating students to become leaders in the future,” says Mingle, who played trumpet in the Crossmen, a drum and bugle corps now based out of San Antonio, Texas and who spent a summer working in support of The Cadets and Crossmen while they were on the road.
An advance team member arrived at Mt. Horeb shortly after midnight on Aug. 2 to tour the school and prepare for the corps’ arrival. At about 5 a.m., the buses and trucks pulled in. Each young musician and adult staff/volunteer set up his/her own air mattress in the gymnasium, all purpose room or library and promptly went to sleep. Wake-up call was at 9:00 a.m. and by 10:30 a.m., the group was packed and on the road to Clifton, leaving the school as spotless as it was before their arrival.
“The members of The Cadets could not have been more appreciative of their time in Warren. One young man took the time to track down our custodial staff to tell them that Mt. Horeb was the cleanest school the corps has stayed in all summer,” says Mingle. “Knowing how much pride our staff puts into maintaining our facilities, this was the ultimate compliment and reflects positively on the entire Warren Township Schools community.”
The Cadets range in age from 14 to 21. Most hail from the mid-Atlantic region but others come from as far as Texas and even Germany. Each year, roughly 750 musicians audition for one of the 150 coveted spots with the drum corps. This year’s team auditioned last winter and held monthly rehearsals and training into June before taking the show on the road. They’ve performed in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, Ohio and many more states, ending the season in mid-August with a national competition in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“Every year is different… the students, the music,” says George Hopkins, CEO & Executive Director of Youth Education in the Arts, the non-profit organization that runs The Cadets and other performing arts teams. “Two nights ago we had a standing ovation.”
“Each show is a way for us to make it our best show,” adds trumpeter Kevin Carlsen. “The show we had in May, for example, is nothing like the show we’ll have today.”
For more information on The Cadets and Youth Education in the Arts, visit www.yea.org.