This time we feature two sister schools from Ocean County who have amazing programs, Jackson Liberty and Jackson Memorial.

Jackson Liberty Lions Band

Band Director - Mr. Scott Katona

Jackson Liberty Lions Bands new season is just starting, but it seems it never stopped! After returning from leading the Disney Main Street Parade, at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, the Jackson Liberty Lion Band is looking forward to another busy, yet award winning season.

Their 2016 season kicked off with the group leading the Miss America Parade on the famous Atlantic City boardwalk while performing a patriotic medley. The group got to march right behind the Miss America float and first five contestants, leading the 2.5 mile long parade down the boardwalk.

Even though it was hot, freshman Anthony Demateis said, "When you are marching and playing you do not pay attention to the heat. The crowd was a motivating factor as they were clapping along to our song and cheering us on."

Following the parade begins their competitive season in which they will take their show entitled “A New Land” to eight different competitions throughout New Jersey. Performance locations include area high schools as well as bigger venues such as Rutgers and Giants Stadium.

“This year’s field show proves to be great,” says band director Scott Katona. “We have a really good group of kids and we are being more creative and innovative with this show. We have created a boat, a dock and 20 yard pieces of fabric to resemble waves on the field.” Joe Demateis, a junior says, "This years show is pretty good, it's better than last years. There is more motivation in the band members this year too and I think we are going to do really well!”

In fact at their very first competition this past week at Brick Memorial, the Jackson Liberty Lion Band took 1st Place and all awards in their group but more importantly has the HIGHEST music ensemble score out of all bands performing, and the 2nd HIGHEST score for percussion and overall effect!!!

Other performance opportunities in the coming months include performing for the opening ceremonies for the NYC Pulaski Day and then leading the parade down 5th ave. In December, the group will travel to West Chester PA to participate in the Nationally televised Christmas Parade in which they won 1st place fan favorite in this parade for 3 years in a row.

Also, in December, the band will hold one of their biggest and best fundraisers. Their Vendor Fair held at Jackson Liberty High School includes over 100 vendors and will take place on Sunday, December 4th from 9-3. For more info please visit the band website at libertylionband.com

Jackson Memorial Jaguar Band parading down the Boardwalk in Atlantic City at the 2016 Miss America Parade. (Bud McCormick)

Jackson Memorial Jaguar Band

Band Director: Mr. Jason Diaz, Asst. Band Director: Mr. Eric Ficarra

Most New Jersey high school students spend their summer break at the Jersey Shore, on vacation or working summer jobs and completely avoid thinking about or even going near their schools. For over 200+ members of the Jackson Memorial High School Marching Band, the fall semester and their upcoming competition season are first and foremost on their minds.

Under the watchful eyes and well-trained ears of Band Director: Jason Diaz, and Asst. Band Director Eric Ficarra, the Jaguar Band spent most of their summer preparing for their 2016 program, “Letters From Home.” They spent most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in July on the campus of Jackson Memorial getting familiar with their new music and new members of the band.

This was all in advance of their two week summer band camp in August. Each year the Jaguar Band spends 8 hours a day for two weeks in the sweltering heat in the mid-August preparing for and fine tuning their show. Band camp culminated on August 18th with what is affectionately known as the “parent performance” and many, many alumni and fans came back and supported the Jaguars, and again, looks to be a fantastic year.

Prior to their first competition, which was also at Brick Memorial, the Jaguar band participated in the 2016 Miss America Parade in Atlantic City, NJ. The band was very well received, as many people gave the band a standing ovation.

The Jaguar Band will be sponsoring a home competition at Jack Munley Field, at Jackson Memorial High School on Saturday, October 8th, 2016 and promises to be fantastic opportunity for fans to come out and see and hear a night of marching music. Upcoming events include the Yamaha Cup at Met Life Stadium on October 15th, the NJ State Championships at Rutgers on October 22nd, and the US Bands National Championships which will be held on November 8th, in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Following two straight 2nd place finishes at Nationals, the Jaguars are looking to claw their way back to a National title which they won back in 2013.

In addition to their busy schedule, they always perform at half-time for the Jackson Memorial High School football team during their five regular season home games and any home playoff games that the team might have.

To finish off the year, the Jaguar Band with also the Jackson Memorial Jazz ensemble will be performing at Walt Disney World during spring break in April of 2017. It is a very exciting opportunity for the members of the band and an experience they surely will never forget. It will an exciting year for this year’s Jaguar Band.

For more information: jacksonjaguarband.com

Harold “Bud” McCormick, who served as Band Director of Jackson Memorial High School the past 33 years, and also was selected as the People’s Choice award winner 2016 for being the “Biggest Fan” as selected by the Asbury Park Press, has volunteered his services to help promote the musical arts.