Marching Forth: Virginia Student Joins Growing List of All-American Musicians

Brigadier General Donald Leins of the U.S. Army (left) presents the USAAAMB shako to Ben Leventhal.

On November 24, U.S Army representatives, band members, teachers, and school officials gathered in the auditorium at Herndon (Virginia) High School to cheer on the newest member of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band (USAAAMB)—Ben Leventhal.

Leventhal and 96 other exemplary senior high school musicians will perform at halftime during the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 3, 2009. It will be the second annual All-American Marching Band halftime performance. The game will be televised on NBC.
Baritone player Leventhal was named to the 2009 All-American Marching Band by Brigadier General Donald Leins of the U.S. Army, and Leins presented a USAAAMB jacket and shako to Leventhal during the ceremony.

Click here for musician profiles and additional information about the band. On athletic fields and in high school auditoriums across the United State SportsLink and the U.S. Army conducted similar ceremonies throughout the fall. SportsLink presents the band, along wih the U.S. Army and MENC. Several MENC staff members, including MENC Executive Director John J. Mahlmann, attended the ceremony due to the school’s proximity to MENC headquarters at the National Center for Music Education.

From the left, MENC Executive Director John J. Mahlmann; Brigadier General Donald Leins, Ben’s mother Jackie Leventhal; Ben Leventhal; Band Director Kathleen Schoelwer; and Earl Hurrey, MENC Deputy Executive Director for Development, pose after the USAAAMB announcement ceremony.

Before the ceremony Jackie Leventhal, Ben’s mother, said she was proud of her son, but added she knew he would handle the attention with his customary “cool.” “He is great kid. Nothing bothers him,” Jackie Leventhal said, adding that his love of music could be traced back to elementary school band.

Herndon High School Band Director Kathleen Schoelwer

Speaking during the program, Herndon Band Director Kathleen Schoelwer said Leventhal gives “professional-caliber performances.” She added: “He’s not just a phenomenal player, but also a phenomenal person. Ben will represent all of you incredibly well out in San Antonio.”
An MENC member, Schoelwer is in her first year as director of the Pride of Herndon Band. She took over leadership of the band when Richard L. Bergman, Herndon Director of Bands Emeritus, retired after 30 years last June.

The Herndon High School Band is the oldest established high school band in Fairfax County, Virginia. For more information on the “Pride,”  click here.

All photos by Becky Spray

Roz Fehr, December 5, 2008. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education