BLACKSBURG, Va. — A local student attending Virginia Tech has been named as a member of the university’s Marching Virginians.
Graduate student Josh Thompson of Ararat received the honor earlier this month, according to Marching Virginian’s spokesperson David McKee. Thompson is the son of Lisa Thompson of Ararat. He is a graduate student majoring in curriculum and instruction in VPI’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. He said he plans to become a high school English teacher. Thompson plays baritone.
“Choosing to become a Marching Virginian is one of the best decisions I’ve made, which also includes choosing to attend Virginia Tech,” said Thompson. “This is my fifth year with the Marching Virginians, and in August, I began the audition process at band camp. It’s more than just band and football. Being a Marching Virginian is being part of something so much bigger than yourself. It is one of the most meaningful things that I have done in my life.”
Thompson said he was active in the band program at Patrick County High School. He said it also is exciting and gratifying to be involved in service projects as well as performances. One of his favorite activities is where the 350-member band will break off in small groups and play to fans in the tailgating areas around Lane Stadium.
He said his interest in band began in sixth grade when he had to choose between chorus or band.
“I didn’t like to sing that much so I chose band,” said Thompson. “From then on it’s been the other half of my life.”
These groups ask for donations during these impromptu performances known as the “Hokies for Hungar” effort that benefits the Montgomery County, Virginia Christmas Store. Thompson also said the Marching Virginians have participated in the Marching for ALS programs that benefit research efforts for the victims of the disease.
McKee explained the Marching Virginians are celebrating their 39th season this year and are commonly known as “The Spirit of Tech.” He said the group is known for entertaining performances and lively music which supports the Hokies during football season.
The Marching Virginians are under the direction of McKee and Polly Middleton. McKee said they will feature great American music throughout the season in addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beach Boys. The group was founded in 1974 and has performed for hundreds of football games and parades.
McKee reports the band also has received numerous compliments for outstanding performances at Virginia Tech’s recent bowl games including the 2012 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, Ga., and the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Orange Bowls in south Florida.
He also indicated that the group volunteers its time and energy toward service projects locally and nationally. The band has led the demolition parade for the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” program and has performed at Craig County and Narrows high schools as well as performing during a fundraiser at Dick’s Sporting Goods to help a local elementary school raise money for a new playground.
This year the band is scheduled to hold its 16th Hokies for the Hungry canned food drive at the Florida State game.
Thompson said even though the Marching Virginian’s form their basic marching line with 330 members and often field a 350 member roster, the group still gets to bond.
“Each section is like a small family,” said Thompson. “We sit in the same stands together and do a lot together so you develop friendships across the entire band.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1952.