Both the Van Alstyne High and Howe High bands recently won spots in this year’s State UIL Area marching competition, where they will face off with the best 3A bands in the state.


The State UIL competition is hosted every other year for 1A, 3A and 5A schools and alternate years for 2A, 4A and 6A schools. There were more than 20 bands vying for a spot at the state competition in San Antonio in early November.


When the Area competition of more than 20 bands had ended, five of the top 10 bands were from Grayson County and three of those schools were in the top five, with the other qualifying school being Whitesboro.


Van Alstyne’s band was the highest placing from Grayson County, securing second place in the competition to punch its ticket to the state competition. The band previously went to state in 2013 and 2015.


“Recognition like this early in our marching season provides our students motivation in realizing their full potential to deliver their best performances, both as individual musicians and collectively as a band,” Director Tim Fulton said after the Van Alstyne band won the 12th Annual Aubrey Marching Classic earlier this year. “The other band directors and I are excited to tap into the momentum this provides to help our students continue to make this year’s show better and better.”


Howe’s marching band came in fourth place at the area show to advance to state. Band Director Angie Liss said their show is based on a quote from Aristotle: “No genius ever existed without a touch of madness.”


She said the show “explores how many of the greatest artists throughout history fought battles with depression and mental illness while achieving at the highest levels of their art.” Liss said the ultimate goal of the show is to bring the topic of mental illness out into the open and to “bring to light the idea that one does not have to be defined by their mental illness or exist as a label, but with the proper support, can excel in society.”


Whitesboro’s marching band made it to the state competition by placing third at the area competition with its 2019 show.


Whitesboro will take the field at the Alamo Dome at 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 6, followed by Van Alstyne at 10:15 a.m. that day and Howe at 12:15 p.m.