Members of the HHS Tiger Pride Marching Band and director Sam Van Dielen, left, gather behind trophies earned at a competition last Saturday in Branson. Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Houston High School Tiger Pride Marching Band placed first in its class last Saturday at the seventh annual Branson Marching Invitational.

Houston beat out Seymour, Strafford and Shiloh Christian Academy (of Springdale, Ark.) to earn the top award in Class 1A at the 16-band event.

Each band at a competition is scored in four different aspects (called captions) by eight different judges. Houston won three of four captions in class 1A: Outstanding Color Guard, Outstanding Percussion and Outstanding Visual (Marching & Choreography).

HHS Tiger Pride Marching Band drum major Devon Sawyer, right, and guard captain Miah Bressie hold trophies earned by the band last Saturday at the Branson Marching Invitational in Pirate Stadium in Branson.

“Because we performed twice for those eight judges, we were given 16 different recordings of feedback from accomplished music educators and marching show designers,” said HHS Band Director Sam Van Dielen. “We were privileged to give an evening exhibition performance as the Class A winner.”

Shiloh Christian won the Outstanding Music award and took second in the class, a mere 4/10 of a point behind Houston.

“It was an exciting day for the Tiger Pride,” Van Dielen said.

This is the first competitive season ever for about half of the members of the HHS of the band and the first in two years for the other half.

“This is a group of kids who have been incredibly discerning and hard-working throughout the process of this competitive season,” Van Dielen said. “Every individual in our band has grown tremendously over the last few months. They have met the challenges in front of them, and they came out swinging for the fences on Saturday.

“As far as results go, I am grateful for the competitive validation, but I am even more grateful for the deep gratification these students felt as they came off the field, before any comparisons were made. They valued their own hard work without needing someone else to validate it first. Thank you to this community for propping up those values. Thank you also to Branson Bands for putting together a great event and for inviting adjudicators who gave valuable, relevant feedback.”

The HHS band will finish the competitive season this Saturday (Oct. 23) at Reeds Spring.

Van Dielen said that any businesses or individuals who would like to support the band can learn about Sponsorship and Sustainership programs by emailing him at

“We are looking for more resources to expand the quality of the services we give to students,” Van Dielen said.

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