“Just Unbelievable”: OTHS takes third at Bands of America St. Louis


“Just Unbelievable.”

Those two words, said on record by one Bands of America individual field judge during the OTHS Marching Panthers’ run at the BOA St. Louis Super Regional on Saturday evening, said it all.

OTHS, who has not missed Finals at BOA St. Louis since 2009, was again competing in the top 14 at the Dome at America’s Center.

The band advanced to Finals after a strong showing at their performance during prelims on Friday afternoon.

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Bands march on O’Fallon at annual MEMC


(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

Marching season is now fully underway in O’Fallon.

For perhaps O’Fallon Township High School’s most storied program, the fall semester truly starts at the Metro East Marching Classic, an annual band competition hosted at the Smiley Campus that showcases some of the St. Louis area’s top marching talent.

In Class A competition, Mater Dei took home the caption awards for Outstanding Music, Outstanding Visual, and Outstanding Color Guard, as well as 1st place. Nashville Community took 2nd and St. Charles placed 3rd while also taking home the award for Outstanding Percussion.

(O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

Class AA was perhaps the closest competition all day, with three school vying for the top spot.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

Marching Panther alumni make Purdue’s All American Marching Band

(Submitted by Ted Lewis)

Senior Head Drum Majors and alumni of the Marching Panthers for the last three years are now members of the Purdue University Marching Band. Pictured are Drum Majors Lilly Schmidt, Class of 2017; David Lewis, Class of 2016; and Hannah Debose, class of 2015.  Also a member is Dylan Lurk, Trumpet Section Leader, Class of 2015.

The band completed band camp recently and played for friends and parents. All four are engineering students at the University’s campus in Lafayette, Indiana.

Marching Panthers Win Veiled Prophet Parade


(Submitted photo)

For over two decades, the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers have marched into downtown St. Louis and come away with the season’s top prize.

On Saturday, the Blue and Gold made it 23 consecutive years with a Veiled Prophet Fair Parade Championship.

The Marching Panthers took home the first place trophy alongside caption awards for Outstanding Percussion and Outstanding Drum Major.

To read the full article, pick up a copy of this week’s paper on newsstands now. Or, click here for the digital edition.

After win at Belleville East, Marching Panthers turn their eyes towards Indy

(Photo by Tim Grout)

(Photo by Tim Grout)

The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers took the final step before the Bands of America Grand National Championships this past weekend, taking care of business at the Belleville East Invitational.

The band completed a clean sweep of Class 4A, taking home awards for Best Music, Best Visuals, Best General Effect, Best Percussion, and Best Color Guard, winning the class in the process.

Collinsville would take second while Fox placed in third.

Class 3A competition would be closer, however, as Hillsboro took home Best Music, Best Percussion, and Best General Effect en route to a win over Mascoutah, who would win Best Visual and Best Color Guard.

The Highland Bulldogs would place third.

Class 2A would host the most balance trophy distribution, as the top three all received a caption award.

(Photo by Tim Grout)

(Photo by Tim Grout)

Murphysboro would win the class, taking home Best Music, Best Visual, and Best General Effect captions. Those are widely regarded to be the most important scoring columns on a judge’s score sheet.

Mater Dei would take second while winning the Best Percussion caption, and Salem won Best Color Guard en route to a third place finish.

Collinsville would take home the award for Best Crowd Appeal.

The grand prize for the evening, however, would belong to the band with the best overall score, and for one more time this season, that honor went to the Marching Panthers.

With Grand Nationals Looming, a final first place finish is unlikely, but not impossible. O’Fallon will relish in the feeling one more time before gearing up to compete for a coveted spot among the top 12 groups.

The greatest stage in high school marching band is now directly on the minds of everyone in the program as the days start to dwindle before the trip to Indianapolis and a shot to make Marching Panther history.

Marching Panthers take sixth at Bands of America contest

The Marching Panthers continue to impress during their 50th anniversary year. (Photo by Tim Grout)

The Marching Panthers continue to impress during their 50th anniversary year. (Photo by Tim Grout)

ST. LOUIS – The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers took another step towards their November goals this past weekend, when they placed sixth overall out of 65 bands from across the country at the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional.

National title contender Broken Arrow (OK) took home the Super Regional championship with an astonishing score of 94.50, almost three full points ahead of second place Blue Springs (MO). Owasso (OK) would finish third ahead of Bellevue West (NE) and [Tulsa] Union (OK).

The Marching Panthers finished a quarter of a point ahead of Minnesota powerhouse Rosemount with an 87.35.

Fort Zumwalt North made a splash in the program’s first ever BOA Finals, placing ahead of a pair of respected Oklahoma programs in Jenks and Bixby.

OTHS would place fifth overall in preliminary competition, swapping places with Union, a school with a Top 12 pedigree. The Marching Panthers finished fourth in Class AAAA, under a point behind another former BOA Grand National Finalist, Owasso.

The finish is the best in school history for the Panthers, who reached Finals for the eighth time ever.

Next weekend, the Marching Panthers will head down the road to take place in the Belleville East Marching Invitational.

“Well in the past, we haven’t been able to do this show because it has been the same weekend as MEMC,” Dr. Gustafson-Hinds said earlier this season. “But now it’s a great opportunity for our group to keep competing and not suffer any ill-effects of an off-week.”

The Panthers figure to compete for the Invitational crown this year. Three-time defending champion Rockwood Summit (MO) will not be attending, leaving the door wide open for a new winner.

Fifteen bands from across the area will attend, with Collinsville and Edwardsville also representing the Southwestern Conference, as Belleville East will perform only in exhibition.

The Belleville show will be the final tune-up before the band packs up and heads east towards Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium and the Bands of America Grand National Championships, widely regarded as the top stage for high school marching band in the world.

Marching Panthers make stunning history at U of I

(Photo by Heather Jones)

(Photo by Heather Jones)

Special seasons are trademarked by special moments, and the OTHS Marching Panthers may have had their first of what could be a remarkable 2016 campaign on Saturday night, taking home the Grand Champion prize at the Illinois Marching Band Championships for the second straight year.

The Panther repeat becomes even more impressive when considering the stature of competition at this season’s competition.

O’Fallon took home first place in 6A competition, scoring an 89.15, over ten points ahead of second place Downers Grove South. Minooka Community took third, edging Neuqua Valley for placement status.

The Marching Panthers took home all three captions, winning Best Music, Best Visual, and Best General Effect.

Class 5A competition was only slightly closer, as perennial state power Prospect took first, along with all three captions, at just under 10 points ahead of second place Rock Island. Romeoville squeaked past Elk Grove Village for third.

4A competition featured Illinois marching band royalty, and [Chicago Heights] Marian Catholic did not disappoint, sweeping all captions en route to a dominant class win over second place Normal West. Bloomington would take third.

The evening’s largest prize, however, would come down to the event’s three heavyweights; Marian Catholic, Prospect, and O’Fallon. What came next would shake the marching world to its core.

O’Fallon, a band from a relatively small town well south of hotbed Chicago, took a swing at the undisputed king of the state, and as the old adage warns, the Panthers did not miss.

O’Fallon 89.15. Marian Catholic 86.20. Absolute pandemonium.

Marian Catholic is a rare breed of program; a private school from the big city with an unmatched pedigree of excellence. The band has never missed a BOA Grand Nationals Finals, placing among the nation’s top 12 bands for over three decades.

But on Saturday night, the established power took a back seat to one of the country’s fastest rising powers, and for one glorious evening, the Marching Panthers took their turn at Illinois’ marching throne.

The 2016 season will continue this coming weekend in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome when O’Fallon will take place in the Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional. Preliminary competition will take place on Friday and Saturday, with the top 14 groups advancing to Finals on Saturday evening. OTHS is a seven time Finalist at the event and figures to be in the mix for the second round again this year.

Marching Panthers celebrate 50 years, look to future

Alumni recognized at Friday’s football game

Alumni members of the Marching Panthers were invited back to O'Fallon this past weekend for a variety of activities, including special recognition during the band's performance at the football game Friday night. While the game was eventually called due to weather, the performance still took place. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

Alumni members of the Marching Panthers were invited back to O’Fallon this past weekend for a variety of activities, including special recognition during the band’s performance at the football game Friday night. While the game was eventually called due to weather, the performance still took place. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Sam Scinta)

O’FALLON – The O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers are in the midst of a year long celebration of the band’s 50th Anniversary of their affiliation with the school.

The band’s most recent moment came on Friday night during the pre-game performance at the soon-to-be cancelled football game when they invited band members from the feeder programs as well as alumni from past groups to perform alongside the 2016 band.

“It’s exciting. O’Fallon is obviously a special program and a special place for band. People have made bonds here, and it will be neat for our kids to meet members from the past,” Dr. Melissa Gustafson-Hinds, Director of the Marching Panthers, told the Weekly.

The enlarged group performed the National Anthem and the School Song on the field of the Panther Athletic Complex, and just snuck the selections in before impending weather postponed the football game against Belleville West until Saturday.

“It’s going to be cool to see what kind of relationships are formed from this experience,” said Gustafson-Hinds, who is affectionately nicknamed Dr. G by her students. “It’ll be great for the alumni to see how things are going on here now. There’s a lot of pride in this town for this program, especially for the alumni.”

“Everybody loves music the same, and that’s why it’s kind of the universal language. It connects people. I’m hoping this will be a kickstarter kind of event that we can keep doing year in and year out to keep music in their lives and connect them back to where they came from.”

Dr. G was very pleased with how the performance went Friday evening, and said it sets a great tone for the rest of the season.

Marching Panthers kick off 2016 at Metro East Marching Classic

The Panthers performed as an exhibition group at MEMC this past Saturday (Photo by Tim Grout)

The Panthers performed as an exhibition group at MEMC this past Saturday (Photo by Tim Grout)


O’FALLON – Amid much anticipation, the O’Fallon Township High School Marching Panthers kicked off their 2016 Field Show season at the 2016 Metro East Marching Classic hosted at the Panther Athletic Complex at OTHS Smiley Campus.

The annual competition, hosted by the Marching Panthers, does not actually start the competition slate for the band, as they performed as an exhibition group at the end of the schedule. The Panthers will head to Edwardsville to take place in the annual Tiger Ambush Classic, an event the band has won upon attendance every season since 2010.

The Marching Panthers will then head west towards Kansas City to compete at Blue Springs High School, an event the band has never competed at. Blue Springs was a finalist at the 2015 Bands of America Grand National Championships, placing them among the top 12 bands in the country.

For this season’s MEMC, 24 regional bands flocked to the Metro East’s Marching Mecca, competing across four divisions, determined by school size.

(Photo by Tim Grout)

(Photo by Tim Grout)

For 1A, Mater Dei took home Music, Visual, Percussion, and Auxiliary caption to cap off a day that saw them win their class by almost three points. Effingham placed in second, while Nashville took third.

2A competition was much closer at the top, as Hillsboro (MO) just edged out Union (MO) by .35 points. Hillsboro took the Visual and Percussion captions, while Union captured the music crown. Triad would place third, while Centralia captured the Auxiliary caption without placement.

In the 3A class, Fort Zumwalt North (MO) dominated the field, taking home the music, visual, and auxiliary captions and winning the class by just under six points. Francis Howell (MO) took second place and the percussion caption while Fort Zumwalt South (MO) grabbed third.

4A competition featured the Southwestern Conference representatives, and was won by Edwardsville, who also captured the music, visual, and auxiliary captions. The Tigers topped Rockwood Summit (MO), who took the percussion caption. Belleville East took third, while Collinsville grabbed fourth.

Fort Zumwalt North would end up as Grand Champion for the event, as their score of 71.05 was over two points ahead of second place Edwardsville.

Scenes from the Blue-Gold Kickoff 2016

O’Fallon Township High School held their annual Blue-Gold event to kick off the 2016 football season. The OTHS Freshmen, Sophomore/JV, and Varsity football teams all participated in a scrimmage. The O’Fallon Little Panthers even got in on the action, along with the OTHS Cheerleaders, Golden Girls, and Marching Panthers.


O’Fallon Weekly Photos by Nick Miller



A View of the Past – August 10, 2016

OTHS Marching Band 1966-67 RESIZED

This week’s view is of the first marching band at O’Fallon Township High School in the old gym at what is now the Smiley Campus.  The photo was taken during the 1966-67 school year.  Belleville native John Albert (bottom row, far right) was hired by the high school district in the summer of 1966 to be the director of bands and was tasked with organizing the first OTHS marching band.  Albert resigned in July 1972 to work for an investment firm in St. Louis.  He was succeeded by Edward A. Fulton.

(Contributed by Brian Keller, O’Fallon Historical Society)

For more, stop by the O’Fallon Historical Museum, located at 101 West State Street. The Museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. and by appointment.  

Two Cents Worth – Support the Band, Subscribe Today

logo   It costs a lot of money for the O’Fallon High School Marching Panthers to represent our area at events like the Orange Bowl later this year.  More money than I realized and ever would have imagined. But I suppose it makes sense, given they have to provide for transportation, accommodations, and food for more than 200 students. And that doesn’t even take into account how much it costs to transport all of the instruments.

So when we learned how much money the band needed to raise, we here at the O’Fallon Weekly put on our thinking caps and asked ourselves how we could help.

As you may have noticed, we have begun accepting paid subscriptions. You may be asking yourself why you should subscribe to a paper you can pick up for free. Well, like all good things, our free period must come to an end soon. Subscriptions will allow us the financial flexibility to pay for postage and printing, and provide us with what we need to not only keep things rolling but to enhance our product and add more features. Additionally, you will conveniently receive the Weekly delivered straight to your mailbox, meaning you’ll never miss an issue. If you’ve liked what the O’Fallon Weekly has offered up to now, just wait until you see what we’ve got in store. But I digress…

Back to the band. We asked ourselves how we can help them in their efforts to go to the Orange Bowl and we had a brainstorm.

Starting this week and going through February, the OTHS Marching Panthers will be selling subscriptions to the O’Fallon Weekly. For every subscription they sell at the low low price of $36, the band member who sells it will receive $9 towards their travel expenses. If you mail in a subscription or sign up online, a donation will be given to the OTHS Band Boosters and be used for general expenses related to the trip.

From day one the O’Fallon Weekly has strived to be a newspaper that cared about the community. This subscription drive will not only allow us to provide you all with excellent local coverage, but also help send the OTHS Marching Panthers to Florida and make us all proud.  So if you’ve enjoyed the Weekly up until now, please subscribe.

For those of you who have already subscribed, thank you and your subscription will begin very soon.