Drums ‘keep the rhythm’ at Hillside

‘Hornet pride’ on display at drumline competition
Mar. 22, 2014 @ 09:54 PM

Kamal Simpson, 16, was a drum major on a mission. He and Shamiya Lyons, 17, walkie-talkie in hand, surveyed the Hillside High School gymnasium and halls Saturday afternoon, making sure everything ran smoothly for the school’s 8th Annual Mike Tilley Drumline Competition. High school drumlines from Greensboro, Warren County, High Point, Winston-Salem and Fayetteville were among the competitors.

The members of the host marching band, the Hillside Mighty Marching Hornets, were also some of the event staff. Simpson played trumpet before being named one of Hillside’s three drum majors, the mace-wielding student leaders of the band. Lyons plays baritone. Of all the band events, she likes the Tilley Drumline Competition best because of the cause. Tickets fund the Mike Tilley Scholarship, which goes to a Hillside student bound for college to study music. Tilley was in the Hillside drumline, Blue Steel, and died in 2005 of suicide. The event raised awareness about symptoms of depression and ways to get help.

Exhibition drumlines included P-Storm, Aycock Middle School and Research Triangle Charter Academy, comprised of younger drummers. As each drumline performed, others took turns warming up outside. Competing high school drumlines were T.W. Andrews High School from High Point, High Point Central High School, Pine Forest High School from Fayetteville, Dudley High School from Greensboro, Grimsley High School from Greensboro and Warren County High School.

The drumline of Grimsley High School in Greensboro took home the Grand Champions trophy.

Hillside will compete in Warren County’s battle of the bands next month. Hillside’s Amad Richardson, 15, who plays cymbals, said the competitors “talk junk and everything, but it’s from the heart.”

“It’s good old-fashioned competition. We don’t take it serious, or try not to,” Richardson said.

Tuba player Jabin Bethea, 17, who was also helping out as event staff, said competitions are a great experience, the band gets closer and they meet new people. His mom, who graduated from Hillside in 1992, was also in the band, as a flag girl.

So what makes a great marching band?

“Discipline, hard workers and loyalty,” Bethea said.

Tyler McDougald, 16, who plays tenor drum, said this was her second year in band but she has been playing drums since she was 5.

“I played flute, too, but it really wasn’t the main part that kept the rhythm of the band. The drums keep the rhythm,” she said.

Warren County High School’s Steel Stix Drumline includes Chris Robinson, 16, who plays snare drum. Being in the drumline was something he always wanted to do.

“You get to do something that you really like, you travel, and meet people,” he said.

Eric Evans, assistant band director, graduated from Hillside in 2007 and N.C. A&T in 2012, where he was a drum major.

“Hillside, we’re like a big family,” he said. “It’s good to do something positive to keep kids off the streets.”

Band director Christopher Hayes is in his second year at the helm.

“It’s awesome being part of this legacy,” Hayes said. He said the event commemorates Tilley’s life and they do it in his honor.

Kimberlee Wynn is the band’s auxiliary director, which means she coaches the color guard and dancers. She’s a Hillside alum, too, in 2000, and came back after college.

“Nobody has Hornet pride, Hillside pride, like Hillside. This is where the love was created and this is where my heart is. I love my band and my girls. They work so hard,” Wynn said.