EFFINGHAM — Newton Marching Eagles brought home top honors Saturday in the Effingham Marching Hearts Invitational band contest at Effingham High School Klosterman Field.

NCHS Marching Eagles, under the direction of Brian Ridlen, won first place in the Class 3A division band competition and Grand Champion overall. The band also received trophies for best visual, general effect, music and percussion in the Class 3A division. A total of five bands competed in the Class 3A division — Newton, Paris, Robinson, Unity and Salem.

Debbie Matson traveled to Effingham from Sparta to watch her granddaughter, Haylee Schoonover, one of three Marching Eagles drum majors, lead the band.

“I enjoy seeing all of these young students do so well,” Matson said. “There are so many negative things going on in the world and I think marching band is absolutely positive.”

Matson said the marching band competition highlights the skills and talents of so many communities.

“There are so many positive things going on with our young people,” Matson said. “And in the news today, we hear only about the bad.”

Matson came to Effingham even though the weather started turning colder in the afternoon.

“It doesn't matter if it's 80 degrees and high humidity or it's cold, we endure it because we want to watch these kids play,” Matson said. “It's just amazing to watch them play. We wouldn't miss it for anything.”

Chet Dobbins of Newton also came to Saturday's event to help support the Marching Eagles.

“There have been a lot of good bands. I think we had a good day,” Dobbins said. “And a lot of good food.”

In addition to the 21 competing bands in the Effingham Marching Hearts Invitational band contest, the Effingham Hearts Red Regiment Marching Band took the field for an exhibition performance just before the Class 3A and Class 4A awards presentation Saturday evening. The Red Regiment did not compete in Saturday's event since the local EHS Band Boosters were hosting the contest.

“The proceeds from the band contest goes to support all of the high school band programs, marching band, concert band and jazz band,” said Kimberly Stanfield, president of Effingham High School Band Boosters, which hosted the contest.

“We are actually looking to start a winter drumline and winter color guard,” Stanfield said.

The Watseka High School Marching Warriors were also awarded the Grand Champion trophy in the Class 1A and Class 2A divisions.


First Place – Okaw Valley

Second Place – Bement

Third Place – Oblong

Visual – Okaw Valley

Auxiliary – Heritage

General Effect – Okaw Valley

Music – Okaw Valley

Percussion – Okaw Valley


First Place – Watseka

Second Place – Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond

Third Place – Casey-Westfield

Visual – Watseka

Auxiliary – Casey-Westfield

General Effect- Watseka

Music – Watseka

Percussion – Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond

Class 1A and Class 2A Grand Champion – Watseka


First Place – Newton

Second Place – Paris

Third Place – Salem

Visual – Newton

Auxiliary – Paris

General Effect – Newton

Music – Newton

Percussion – Newton


First Place – Mt. Zion

Second Place – Taylorville

Third Place – Centralia

Visual (Tie) – Mt. Zion and Centralia

Auxiliary – Mt. Zion

General Effect – Mt. Zion

Music – Taylorville

Percussion – Mt. Zion

Class 3A and Class 4A Grand Champion — Newton

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