Two Johnson County teens will be among the halftime show performers at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game when it airs Jan. 4 on NBC.
By SARA BEANE
Special to The Star
Annie Schugart, a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, and Megan Keil, a senior at Olathe North High School, have been chosen as members of the elite U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Schugart, who plays the piccolo, and Keil who plays the clarinet, will each receive an all-expense-paid trip to the game at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
This week, Sgt. Henry Hale and Staff Sgt. Richard Martinez from the Overland Park Army Recruiting Center presented Schugart and Keil with official band jackets during presentations in front of their peers. Schugart received her jacket at a school assembly that included members of the band and the dance team, to which she also belongs. Keil was presented with her jacket during the Olathe District Marching Festival at the College Boulevard Activity Center.
Both Schugart and Keil were nominated by their band directors and then underwent an intensive application process that included videotaped performances of assigned music selections.
The teens said they were thrilled to hear they had been chosen to be part of the prestigious national marching band made up of only 125 members.
“This is a very big honor and I am very excited to represent my school and my state,” Keil said.
“I feel really humbled to have been selected,” Schugart said.
Both students will leave for San Antonio on Dec. 30 and will spend several long days rehearsing for the halftime show. Last year, approximately 2.5 million television viewers tuned in to watch the game.
Schugart considers her inclusion in the marching band as the culmination of her high school career and her lifelong dedication to music. She began playing the piano at age 3 and moved on to the flute by the time she was in elementary school, before eventually transitioning to the piccolo.
“I never imagined that my pursuit of music would take me this far,” Schugart said.
Schugart said she’s looking forward to her week in San Antonio and the opportunity to be surrounded by so many talented seniors from across the country.
Schugart would like to continue her music career in college. While she hasn’t decided on a specific school yet, she hopes to perform with a college band or symphony.
Keil of Olathe North also will pursue her passion for music when she heads off to college next year. She is planning on majoring in music therapy at the University of Kansas.
Like Schugart, Keil is looking forward to her trip to San Antonio. She knows that even though she will be working very hard at rehearsals, she also will be making some wonderful memories.
“I am going to meet so many people and make great friends with people that have similar interests as me,” Keil said.
Keil’s selection as a member of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band isn’t just significant for her, but for her school as well. Keil is the third Olathe North high school band member in the last three years to be selected for the honor. It’s a fact that band director Justin Love takes a lot of pride in.
“I think it is a reflection of the type of students we have,” Love said. “We have really hard workers and somehow we have created an environment where they push themselves to perform at a high level.”
Keil considers it a privilege to be part of an elite national band and a distinguished group at her school.
“It’s really awesome that I get to follow two people,” Keil said.