For the record

November 25, 2006

Members of Spring-Ford High School's Marching Band say they credit their director, John Eckstine, with crafting a superior band program at the high school and leading them to victory in the 2006 Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Group IV Regional & State Championship.

The Golden Ram Marching Band from Royersford, Pa., placed first with a score of 97.3 to win the group's first championship title earlier this month. The band finished first place in brass, wind and music and second place in percussion.

The band competed against 38 bands in a nine-state region to qualify to participate in the championship, which pitted the group against 19 other bands. Spring-Ford's Marching Band placed 14th four years ago; seventh three years ago; and sixth for the last two years in the competition.

Eckstine, formerly of Hagerstown, taught in Washington County Public Schools for 20 years at Clear Spring, Williamsport and Boonsboro high schools.


"I think Mr. Eckstine has a lot to do with our success, because he never gave up on his students, and we were able to accomplish a lot with his help," said Angela Walker, a senior who plays tenor sax. "He really turned the entire program around when he came here seven years ago and it would not be what it is today without him and all of the talented people he hired."

Another senior, Dennis Siller, percussion captain, said it was the ultimate feeling to win the championship in his senior year.

"Ever since I was brought into the world of marching band, I never knew what it was like to be a champion," Dennis said.

Marching Band/Wind Ensemble is viewed as an academic subject at Spring-Ford High School that teaches team building and responsibility, and shows kids how with hard work they can excel at something, whether they are veteran or novice musicians, Eckstine said.

He said the entire marching Band had to work extremely hard to achieve this kind of success.

"This is like winning the Super Bowl it's something that I think we all dreamed could happen some day, but we never quite thought it could," Eckstine said. "I don't think it has sunk in yet that we accomplished this. It is just an incredible feeling to see everything come together like this. It's the first time a Group IV band from the Philadelphia area has won the Tournament of Bands Atlantic Coast Group IV Championship."

Group IV bands are the largest school marching bands, with over 81 musicians. Spring-Ford's Marching Band has about 130 members.

The National Fraternal Congress of America, Oak Brook, Ill., recognized Richard M. Long - a member of the Travelers Protective Association of America, Maryland Division, Post C, of Hagerstown - as a Fraternal MVP (Most Valuable Participant) for the week of Nov. 6.

Fraternal MVPs are "Fraternalists-in-Action" who volunteer their time and energy to strengthen their communities through participation in local lodge activities and other charitable endeavors.

"The NFCA wishes to salute those individuals as true fraternalists," said NFCA Chair of the Board Janice U. Whipple. "As a Fraternal MVP, Richard Long embodies the heart of fraternalism through his hard work, dedication and generosity."

During his 48 years of membership in the TPA, Long has served as president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and chaplain of his post and serves as ritual chair.

When the TPA began its distribution of DNA kits, Long spoke about the program with the local chief of police, who advised him to continue promotion of the program in the Hagerstown area because DNA is a better method of identifying missing children, or anybody else, than fingerprinting. Long and another member of Post C made a televised presentation to the county school board and superintendent and were urged to pursue distributing DNA kits in the local school system.

After meetings and discussions with the school board, Long and members of the Post C purchased and assembled the 1,600 DNA kits for distribution to kindergarten children beginning in 2005. This year, an additional 1,800 kits were distributed to kindergarten children to take home. It is the goal of Long and his fellow members to continue distributing the kits for the next 10 years to the kindergarten children, which will eventually include all students in the county. Long believes that young children are more apt to take information home to their parents and, while it is a challenging program, he believes it has been very successful.

Long's concern for young children also is evidenced by his serving as a member of the board of Children's Village. This program trains all second-grade students about police and fire safety. The organization provides a two-day instructional program covering "in-home" safety concerns and first aid training delivered by fire personnel emphasizing the proper method of "crawling low" to escape a smoke filled environment. Children also learn how to use 911 and to answer questions in emergencies.

He is a member of the Exchange Club in Hagerstown, having served as treasurer and helps in many other ways that benefit the community. Long also served eight years as a judge of the Orphans Court to help settle wills and estates in Washington County. He is active in his local church, serving on the endowment committee, in other areas of service to the church, and sang in the choir for over 50 years.

Long worked as chemist for several years before taking over the family-owned office equipment business.

The Herald-Mail Articles