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Miss Kansas brings beat to WAC marching festival
Miss Kansas bass drum
Miss Kansas Taylor Clark joins the Great Bend High School drumline to give the end-of-program cadence for Tuesday evening's WAC Marching Band Festival at GBHS Memorial Stadium.

“March King” composer John Phillip Sousa knew that the foundation of any marching band was its bass drummer.

It’s a musical tenet that the current Miss Kansas, Taylor Clark, knows all too well.

As a featured speaker at the Western Athletic Conference Marching Band Festival Tuesday evening, Clark told her audience at Great Bend High School’s Memorial Stadium that the bass drum is the cornerstone of the marching band’s drumline.

The St. John native, who expects to return to Kansas State next year to finish her degree in music education, said, “You Wildcat fans know the ‘Wabash Cannonball?’ Well, it’s the bass drums’ job to kick that song off.” 

At the WAC festival, Clark was invited to speak to her Miss Kansas platform, “Band Together: Music Education for All” and her passion for percussion as an assistant section leader of the KSU drumline. She was also invited to assist Great Bend High School’s percussion section in providing the cadence for the all-schools grand march at the end of the program and reading off each school’s composite overall rating for the evening.

Great Bend High School band director Grant Mathews was most excited for the Panther Band’s return to competition, after the WAC event was canceled last year due to COVID. 

“It’s nice to get back to the marching activity,” Mathews noted. “We did home games last year, but to get back to festival performance is a fun experience.”

Mathews also noted that the evening was special for the students, not only to perform, but to see other schools perform as well.

At the WAC festival, a panel of five judges each took note of the bands, based on musical and visual performance, overall presentation, percussion and color guard, for a rating of I-V. The categories were then averaged for an overall rating.

There are officially no placings at the WAC gathering, Mathews noted. “It’s not a first-place, second-place kind of thing,” he said. “The ratings are a measure of the band members against themselves, giving their best foot forward.”

The GBHS freshman band led off the festival, receiving a combined II rating from the judges. 

The GBHS varsity marching band, presenting its “Musical Royalty” program featuring the music of Michael Jackson, the band Queen and the Beatles, received an overall II rating.

Hays High’s marching Indians received an overall I rating; Liberal High School, II; Garden City High School, I; and Dodge City High School, I.