Mission and History
The mission of the Arlington High School Marching Band is to develop a commitment to excellence in professionalism, character, leadership, and artistry.
Through the educators, boosters, and administrators, the students of the Arlington Marching Band will have the opportunity to learn, develop, and internalize these principles which are the keys to outstanding bands and exemplary members of our society.
The Arlington Central School District was founded in 1924. The District hired its first music specialist in 1931, and since that time has maintained quality music education in its schools.
The non-competitive marching band started at the Arlington High School Junior/Senior High School in the mid-1940s and continued until the late 1960s. The group performed in local events, parades, and home football games. Very simple formations were utilized as the band played a pre-game with the National Anthem, played “pep tunes” in the stands, and returned to the field to entertain the crowd at halftime. Using every band member available, the group formed the letter “A” on the field to the delight of the crowd. During this time, twirlers were often part of the performance. In 1957, Edward Husted was hired as the band director of the Arlington Junior/Senior High School Band, which often performed as the Marching Band.
In 1961, the Arlington High School opened in Freedom Plains, where the campus currently sits. As the new school opened, the Admiralettes Pom-Pom team was formed under the direction of Constance Fishwick.
Our Competitive Beginning
In 1967, William Sweeney was hired to work alongside chorus teacher June Thorne as one of only two music teachers at the High School. The band had shrunk to only 13 members by the time of Bill Sweeney’s hiring, yet the band continued to execute simple maneuvers and play for the Admiralettes, who performed a pom-pom and kick line routine. During this time, the groundwork was laid for the beginning of the award-winning competitive marching band of today.
During the early 1970s, four area high schools planned the first local Marching Band Exhibition. John Jay, Ketchum, Mahopac, and Arlington combined efforts to provide an exhibition for local audiences. These exhibitions generated enthusiasm (and an incentive for both the students and staff), and the Band Exhibition became a yearly event.
In 1975, the Band went through a transformation. With the move from majorettes to a color guard and an increase in the difficulty and precision of the shows, Arlington started to field its first competitive productions. Arlington entered its first competition in 1976, at Oceanside, Long Island. On October 25, 1976, the Admiral Marching Band, with only 65 members, won its first 1st Place Award.
During the early 1980s, the band continued to grow and develop, enjoying competitive success at the state and regional levels. The Band won the Tournament of Bands (TOB) Atlantic Coast Championships in 1983 and 1985 and an Eastern Marching Band Circuit (EMBA) in 1983. During this time, the Arlington Winter Guard enjoyed some of its greatest competitive successes in both local and regional circuits. Continuing into the 1990s, the Arlington Guard participated in the Winter Guard International (WGI) circuits in ’84-87, ’92-94, and ’97.
In 1986, Joseph Szabo took over the helm as director of the Arlington Marching Band. During his tenure, the marching band made many changes that are still in effect today. The marching band began to compete in the Cadets Marching Band Circuit (now USBands) and performed for the 1st time at the Meadowlands Stadium. In 1993, Arlington joined the New York State Field Band Conference (NYSFBC) and has been participating primarily in this circuit ever since. In addition, 1996 marked the first time Arlington participated in a Bands of America (BOA) Regional competition.
In 1997, Rich Guillen became the director of the Arlington Marching Band.
The early 2000s brought many changes to the Admirals. In 2001, the band received new uniforms and started to participate in Musical Arts Conference (MAC) competitions. Two years later, Arlington won their first MAC Championship. In 2004, Arlington won its first New York State Field Band Championship, and a second Musical Arts Conference Championship. That same year, the band participated in its first and only Bands of America Grand National Championship. At that event, they were semifinalists, placing in the top 25 bands in the nation.
In 2006, Darrell Keech became the director of the Arlington Marching Band.
The Arlington Admiral Winter Guard experienced a rebirth for the 2009 season, competing in the Scholastic “A” Class of WGI. The Winter Guard has won numerous regional MAC and WGI competitions and has traveled to Dayton, Ohio, for the WGI World Championships. The Winter Guard was a World Champion “A” Class finalist in 2016.
More recently, in 2014, a Winter Percussion ensemble was formed. The Percussion Ensemble has competed in the “A” Class MAC, and USBANDS circuits. The ensemble has been undefeated for the last two years and has won consecutive championships. As a result, they were promoted to the prestigious “Open” Class starting in 2018.
World-renowned designer Michael Cesario at Fred J. Miller Incorporated designed new uniforms for the band in 2012. In 2016, the band won its second New York State Field Band Championship in the National Class and then followed with championships in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Arlington Marching Band Directors (During the competitive years)
1967-1985 William Sweeney
1986-1996 Joseph Szabo
1997-2005 Richard Guillen
2006-Present Darrell Keech