On Saturday, the 145-member Shawnee High School Marching Band will compete in a 17-school competition at Yukon High School.

On Saturday, the 145-member Shawnee High School Marching Band will compete in a 17-school competition at Yukon High School.

“This is a unique competition as we will compete against 6A schools through 3A schools,” band director Matt Chandler said. “We are looking forward to the challenge.”

This year's theme is 'Leave.'

“We take the leaf cycle and use it both visually and metaphorically,” Chandler said. “We go through all the seasons ending with winter. Musically, each season has a different feel to it.”

Each band will compete in the preliminary round and the top 12 advances to the final round. In last year's competition in Yukon, Shawnee made the finals but the event was cut short due to thunderstorms.

The Shawnee band has a rigorous practice schedule. Each day of the week the band gathers at 7:30 a.m. and practices until 9:15 a.m. Tuesday's include evening rehearsals from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The drum line participates in an extra practice following Tuesday's practice from 7 to 9 p.m.

“The kids are really dedicated,” Chandler said. “They could easily get burned out so we have a lot to do up until mid October. They are there on time every day they're supposed to be and have the understanding that if they aren't there, it affects all of their band mates.”

The band practiced on average 20 hours per week the two weeks leading up to the start of the school year.

One unique aspect of marching band competitions each school supports the other schools performing.

“It's really cool to see,” Chandler said. “All the bands and directors have a mutual understanding and it's nice to see the other bands in the stands cheering everyone on.”

Chandler has been with Shawnee as the assistant band director starting in 2012 and became the head band director in 2014.

Before each competition, the band goes through a specific routine.

“We go through the typical warmup before each competition,” Chandler said. “The last 10 minutes we call it our get hyped time. We get in a circle, pray for those who want to pray and do a chant and get ourselves hyped up.”

Last year's band had 150 students but with a larger graduating class the numbers are about where Chandler wants it to be given the overall talent pool.

“I think we are at a perfect size,” Chandler said. “There are great bands have more kids and some really good bands that only have 80 members. Either way I am extremely happy with the group of students we have.”

The Shawnee band as a whole appreciate the efforts of the booster club, Chandler said.

“The boosters are a great financial support but they also double as additional assistant directors,” he said. “The boosters do everything they can to raise money for these kids. They were able to get us some new instruments and helped pay some repair bills. When we're at contests or whatever type of function, it's so nice they support us without having to be ask. It's honestly one of the best booster clubs I have been around.”

The competition will take place at the Yukon High School football field and will begin around 8 a.m. and the finals will conclude about midnight.