Petoskey Marching Northmen

October 5, 2018


Students at Petoskey High School can enjoy extra-curricular activities a hundred a different ways, but the best way to enjoy those extracurricular’s in a successful way might be through the award-winning band program.

Many students take on more than one extracurricular activity.  Some choose athletics, while others might prefer robotics or Quiz Bowl, or any other of a number of options.  The one extra that more and more students choose, however, is band, providing a steady flow of motivated and talented musicians to keep the program strong and successful.

Band students take on a variety of musical purposes, from marching band in the fall, through jazz band and steel drum band, as well as concert band.  As my son was a four year band student, I know well the rhythms of the program.

From mid-August through October, for example, I can listen in to marching band practices from my backyard deck, only a short distance from the PHS stadium.  And while there are plenty of other early year programs to motivate students, the marching band might be the most popular, involving more than 200 students each season.

The Marching Northmen stay busy in their short season, whether halftime shows at football games, or competitions from Grand Rapids to Traverse City or Kenowa Hills, the Marching Northmen are constantly on the go, and commonly come away from their events with the highest accolades.  The evidence can be found in the trophy cases outside the band room at PHS, which brim to overflowing with the hardware to prove the group’s hard work.

Band students do not typically begin their preparation in high school, however, but get a jump start while in middle school.  Trying out instruments for example, Petoskey students are fortunate enough to have options. Under the careful tutelage of band directors  Patrick Ryan, Barry Bennett, Duane Willson, and even emeritus director Carl Brien, students develop with the precision of a fine timepiece, learning the music of masters from Beethoven to Bernstein and more.  

For many students, their days in the band prove the most memorable of high school.  From marching band camp in August, through the long bus rides to far away competitions, then the early morning practices of jazz band or concert band, students remember their years at PHS by recalling the specific band program of a certain year.  

Band is also among the most democratic of activities, with freshmen marching and playing right alongside juniors and seniors, whether in performances or in practice.  Music, it is true, does not discriminate by class.

Of course, any successful student program requires a strong booster organization, and the Petoskey Band Boosters work constantly to keep students outfitted and ready for travel.  Because of the program’s size, the booster’s group is also among the largest within the Petoskey schools universe.

Extracurricular’s are indeed popular at Petoskey High School, perhaps none more popular–or successful–than the storied band program.