Bands march into Newton

Fresh off its grand-championship performance last weekend, the Newton-Conover High School Band will host its own competition Saturday.

Thirteen bands from North Carolina and Virginia will compete in four classifications at the 28th Annual Southeastern Classic at the high school.

The event is a fundraiser for the Newton-Conover band program, and Director Haskew Smith said proceeds will go toward a spring break trip to Florida for performances and fun.

"We're hoping for good weather Saturday," said Smith, Newton-Conover's band director since 1999. "Supposed to be 54 and good fall weather.

There will be plenty of food to eat, plenty of coffee and plenty of hot chocolate."

Admission is $5, and an opening ceremony will welcome visitors to Gurley Stadium at 4:20 p.m. Parents can buy "airgrams," short notes read by the public address announcer, for band participants for $3.

West Wilkes High School will lead off the competition at 4:30.

A host of Catawba County bands will follow, including Bunker Hill at 4:45, Bandys at 5, Maiden at 6 and Foard at 6:15. As host, Newton-Conover cannot compete in the event, but the Red Devil band will provide an exhibition performance of its show at 8:40 p.m.

Red Devil students are working this week to prepare for the event. Junior Austin Minor is the student chairman for the classic. Minor and his fellow students will guide bands, work the concession stands and perform other tasks Saturday.

"One of the great things this year, these kids are better staff members than I could ever pay for because they do the parts and wear the shoes," Smith said. "These kids have really stepped up."

Bands also performing Saturday include West Lincoln, Freedom, North Davidson, South Point, Hunter Huss, East Gaston and John S. Battle from Bristol, Va.

Bands will be rated by five judges. Highest and lowest scores will be dropped, and the final score will be the average of the middle three ratings.