FLHS Students Compete in Final Round of WGI World Championships

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Josh Peterson, Chris Love, and Brad Peterson

Flying L seniors Chris Love and Josh Peterson as well as FLHS alum Brad Peterson competed in the 2014 Winter Guard International (WGI) Indoor Percussion World Championships as part of the REEF Independent ensemble. The competition was held on April 10-11 in Ohio at Miami University and the University of Dayton. REEF advanced to the final round and finished in 11th place in the Percussion Independent A (PIA) class.

“It has been a unique experience, unlike any other.” said cymbal player Chris Love. “Early on in the season, many people had doubts about our group. I didn’t realize we would ever make it this far.”

WGI is “the sport of the arts,” providing a venue for young people to achieve the extraordinary through performance and competition. Founded in 1977 and based upon marching band traditions, WGI hosts competitive events for both indoor percussion and color guard ensembles of people ages 14 to 22. More than 36,000 youth participate at the regional level, and more than 12,000 compete at the World Championships.

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REEF Independent performing during the final round of the 2014 WGI World Championships

This is the inaugural season for REEF Independent, founded by director Eric Levy. REEF has spent every Saturday and Sunday (and many Friday nights) since January practicing for and competing in events held by the WGI and the South Florida Winter Guard Association (SFWGA).

REEF’s advancement to the finals round is an extraordinary achievement for a new group. “These kids have been amazing,” said Levy. “They worked so hard, and they truly earned this accomplishment. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Based in Boca Raton, REEF includes students from high schools and universities across Broward and Palm Beach counties. Their 2014 show, titled “A Change of Heart,” is based upon the true story of Craig Lewis, recipient of the world’s first beatless artificial heart.

“After prelims, it was stressful until we heard that we had a guaranteed spot in finals,” said synth player Josh Peterson. “But once we knew we were in, all we could feel was euphoria.”

REEF is one of more than 70 PIA ensembles arond the world that performed in WGI events this season. Of all the PIA groups who qualified for the 2014 World Championships, only 26 participated in the preliminary round, and of those only 12 groups (including REEF) scored well enough to move on to the final round.

“These students have always been outstanding leaders at Fort Lauderdale High School,” said FLHS band director Kathryn Lotocky. “Making it to the finals of the WGI World Championships is a wonderful acknowledgement of the dedication they’ve shown to REEF as well as the Flying L band. I would love to one day grow the FLHS drum line and color guard units into leading WGI ensembles to give all of my students the opportunity to share in that experience.”

For more information about joining the FLHS Marching Band or Color Guard, contact Ms. Lotocky at kathryn.lotocky@browardschools.com. For more information about REEF Independent, go online to reefindependent.org or facebook.com/reefindependent. For more information about WGI – including scores, photos, and videos of the World Championships – go online to wgi.org. For more information about SFWGA, go online to sfwga.org.