A sweepstakes band is one that receives a score of one in not only the marching contest, but also the concert and sight reading contests. Not an easy task. This year, the Bridge City High School Band not only made sweepstakes, but they have done it for three years straight.

“This is the first time in the history of the school they have made it three times in a row,” said Russell Tipton, the band director.

Back in the 70s, the school did win two back to back sweepstakes titles, but hadn’t repeated the feat until last year.

“Every other year you’re eligible to advance to the area competition, which is our version of the playoffs,” said Tipton. “We went to the area contest in Nacogdoches last Saturday and was actually selected as an area finalist.” Tipton said all the bands march and are ranked one through however many bands there are. The top 10 march again in the afternoon and are re-ranked. The top four advance to the state competition. Bridge City was ranked seventh in the afternoon.

“We were within a narrow margin of making the state marching contest within the gap between third place and us,” said Tipton.

He said it was nice for the kids because they haven’t been selected as a finalist since 2004 or 2005.

“It was a good accomplishment for the kids to be a part of that process and see how they stack up against the bands in the area.”

This is Tipton’s third year as band director at Bridge City. He has two staff members: Tami Goss and Brenda Legendre.

Our next thing we’ll be participating in is called the All-Region contest. That’s an individual contest where they work up eight tunes or studies that are selected by the state and then they compete with other kids within the region individually. It’s sort of the same playoff situation. They put the kids in chair order, and then the top bunch of chairs is selected into area.” He said students advancing to area will compete in January. Those advancing from there make the All-State band. “It’s the highest honor that you can get as a kid,” said Tipton. “Last year we had two. This year we look forward to having at least that many.”

Out of a band of 82, nine are seniors. “It’s growing,” said Tipton.

Friday is not only the Bayou Bowl with football rival Orangefield Bobcats; it is also senior night for Bridge City, which is also a special night for the band. The middle school band gets to perform with the high school band. “That’s 235 kids, seventh through 12th grade that will be up there, so it’s kind of neat to get to see the future; what’s coming down the pike so to speak. It’ll be pretty cool.”

“It’s a pretty cool thing to watch the band program grow so much. The band has always done well, but to see it grow until it gets state recognition; to see how many kids are interested in it and be involved in it. It’s a really nice thing to be a part of. It’s fun to watch.”

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.