HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Imagine a musical theater production played out on a huge field with acting, action and great music. That is what Oak Grove High School Marching Band took to the state marching band championship.
They left with a huge first place trophy and came right back to the Pine Belt to perform for Longleaf Elementary School students, the kids that rooted for them the whole way.
The band was trapped in a wild jungle where the hunter became the hunted.
"We kind of took marching band into...almost like a musical theater event," said Director of Bands, Sharon Laird.
This performance was non-traditional, full of special effects, unique instruments and a feature dancer. It landed the Oak Grove High School Marching Band its first ever win at the state competition.
"It's a lot of hard work and sweat and rain and cold and heat," Laird said.
The incorporation of all of the arts along with a dedicated group got them the win, but perhaps a burst of confidence came from the kiddos in the audience clapping and awing at the show.
"It's kind of cool, because some of the high school members I know," said Joshua Posey, a 4th grader at Longleaf Elementary School. "It's cool to see them perform."
Longleaf Elementary students took a field trip. Leading up to the competition, they sent goody bags with messages of support to the band members.
"We did it, because we didn't want them to be nervous," said Melody Taylor, a 4th grader at Longleaf Elementary School.
"All of the band students stood a little taller and smiled a little bigger, because they knew they have young people looking up to them," Laird said.
"When the cage trapped them, that was probably my favorite part," Posey said.
The band members talked about their instruments and how they work. It was a win for the school and a community rooting them on. The team agreed that they just wanted to do their best and be proud of what they did at the competition.
"The gold metal and the state championship was the icing on the cake," Laird said. "I watched the students, and it was such elation."
Laird said the most important parts of the experience, though, is dedicated young people building character and setting a positive example.
"Band teaches us how to work together as a unit, responsibility, dedication and commitment to someone other than yourself," Laird said.
She said band made her a better person overall. Meanwhile, the elementary school students looked on with joy as they watched the incomparable performance.
"I was so happy. I loved it," Taylor said. "I hope one day I'll be able to do what they're doing."