November 19, 2009
Readers from across the country responded to "Marching to Glory," a three-part series by Tribune critic Howard Reich on the Marian Catholic High School marching band and its journey to the Grand National Championships, led by band director Greg Bimm.
Following are edited letters. To read the complete series, watch video of the band and explore a photo gallery, go to chicagotribune.com/marian.
Band lessonsThanks so much for your coverage of the Marian Catholic High School band. I'm an alum from '89, and I was part of the years when winning was routine. I suspect that no other band directors during that time thought high school students could play Stravinsky and Copland. But exactly as you portrayed in the articles and video, Mr. Bimm never let us quit, and he always expected the best. I take those lessons from more than 20 years ago with me in my work now.
-- Amy Rasmussen, executive director, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, Chicago
Winning gestureGreat story on Marian Catholic. It's in a pretty gritty area and is lacking in advantages, but the spirit of the band is amazing. I have a son and a daughter in the Lake Park marching band, which is also an excellent program, and I was glad to see that Mike Chiodo's tribute (to Marian) made the newspaper. It was newsworthy! In today's win-at-all-costs environment, Mike's -- and the band's -- gesture stood out.
-- Dave Brambert,
Real GoliathYour article paints Marian Catholic as David vs. Goliath. Maybe when pitted against the likes of Lake Park it is. But that's hardly my viewpoint. In fact, when I was in school Marian was Goliath and we directly competed with them. Your article also makes it sound as if Marian was the hardest working band out there. Every band works just as hard. Aside from my bias toward Marian Catholic, I do not want to take away the victory from the kids. They worked hard.
-- Jeff Podolski,
Class actMy 18-year-old daughter is an alumna of the Centerville Jazz Band from Ohio, a band that is frequently in competition with Marian Catholic. The Marian Catholic program is a class act from top to bottom and is extremely well-respected in the band world. Your column is the single best article I have ever read about marching band. I hope all those who read it will come away with a better appreciation of the truly life-changing experience that band can be for teenagers who are fortunate enough to work with people like Mr. Bimm.
-- Sue Henderson,
True championsYour descriptive writing made me feel as if I were there and possibly 17 again. And my thanks to the Marian Catholic High School marching band. They are truly champions.
-- Si Wilson,
Preparation for lifeAs a former Marian band parent (7 years), I was so pleased to see that you "get" the experience of being in the Marian band. The first installment of your story made both my husband and me shed a tear when we read about Lake Park playing for Marian at the state finals.
-- Lynn DeJong,
Worthy competitorAs an alum of Plymouth-Canton marching band -- one of Marian Catholic's longtime competitors at Grand Nationals -- allow me to express my sincere gratitude for your wonderful article. You perfectly captured the joy and frustration of competing with a nationally recognized group, and Marian Catholic is certainly one of the very best.
-- Robert Dean,
Connecting with MarianMy wife and I are Marian Catholic band parents. We would like to thank you for the time and energy you invested in our children and writing such a wonderful and moving article. Sometimes it is so difficult to get others not connected with Marian Catholic band to understand our experience. Most who read it were moved to tears.
-- Dave and Lori Grybas,
Power of musicThank you for the uplifting story that beautifully covers the commitment, determination and sheer belief of the Marian band and their inspirational band director. Your story made me cry, not from sadness but from pure happiness for their success. The power of the human spirit radiates from the students and Greg Bimm.
-- Katharine Boyda,
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