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Edison band members 'super excited' for D.C. trip

Cary Ashby • May 11, 2018 at 11:00 AM

MILAN — Percussionist Jackson DeVault admits “it’s been a while” since he’s played the songs that he and the Edison marching band have been rehearsing.

“Practice is definitely a trip down memory lane,” the tenor drums/quads player said Wednesday. “It takes a while (to remember the music). It’s the riding-the-bike thing.”

The marching band will perform eight songs at the World War II memorial during its four-day trip to Washington.

“We are going to use the sheet music to make it as good as possible,” said DeVault, the son of Travis and Holly.

Included in the set list are such upbeat tunes as “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and “My House” by Flo Rida. The Edison band also will perform an armed forces medley, which includes a procession of flags for each branch.

DeVault, who is the band council co-president with senior Tori Straka, said the medley is challenging to play because of its length. The song is a standard for the local Memorial Day parade.

“It’s a good song to take to Washington,” DeVault said.  

While at the nation’s capital, the Edison musicians will experience performances by the U.S. Marine Corps band and Silent Drill Team plus an instructional clinic. The teenagers also plan on having a guided tour of the Marine barracks and will tour many of the museums in D.C. They also will see the Thomas Edison statute in the U.S. Capitol building.

Straka, a majorette, has been to Washington as part of the eighth-grade trip, but said she’s most looking forward to seeing the Marines perform.

“They are really awesome,” added the daughter of Larry Straka and Rebecca Yergan. 

About a year ago, several ensembles from the Quantico (Va.) Marine Corps Band performed for the Edison marching band in the Firelands Regional Medical Center Fieldhouse at EHS. That’s when the idea for the trip came to band director Denise Reilly.

“I am excited to go on the trip with my friends and explore D.C. I know everyone is super excited to do this,” Tori Straka said.

Noteworthy Tours, Inc. is coordinating the trip. The Sandusky-based business specializes in accomodating music ensembles. The late Dennis Lavey created Noteworthy Tours after he retired from Perkins Local Schools as a band director.

Kim Hoffman, whose son Evan plays snare drum for Edison, is the Edison Music Boosters president and a Noteworthy Tours agent.

“She is joining us as one of our tour guides,” Reilly said. “I fully believe in supporting those who support us.”

The band staff includes Reilly, assistant band director Pamela Notley and two volunteers — majorette adviser Becky Parcher and percussion adviser Phil Payne. Parcher is a retired Edison physical education and health teacher.

Reilly said the band wouldn’t be as prepared for this trip without the detail-oriented hard work of Pat Lukas and Debbie Shoop, who are in charge of uniforms.

“They are uniform angels,” the director added. 

The marching band left for Washington on Thursday night.

Reilly sees the trip as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to represent Edison High School” — not to mention “an honor and a privilege.”

“The Edison music students will be exceptional ambassadors of good will from our school district and represent the birthplace of Thomas Edison with great pride,” she said in a letter that went home to families.

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