'The pursuit of excellence': Prospect March Knights complete championship season

The Prospect Marching Knights, Prospect High School's marching band, have established a tradition of excellence.

But this fall season was particularly satisfying for the squad, as it captured the title in the Class 5A category and placed second overall at the Illinois State Marching Band Championships in Normal.

"We were able to do a few things this fall that hadn't been done in quite some time," said the band's director, Chris Barnum.

The Mount Prospect school's band. among 42 that took part in the competition, also earned Outstanding Achievement in Music and General Effect honors.

It capped a season highlighted by a first-place finish in the Class 5A category at the Illinois Marching Band Championships at the University of Illinois. The band earned Best Music and Best Visual honors at that October competition.

And in September, Bands of America named the Marching Knights the Whitewater Regional Champions. It was the second regional title at Bands of America in Prospect's history and the first since 2001.

Performing on the fields of state universities also gave many of the performers a taste of their future. Barnum said several alumni have gone on to join the Marching Illini and the Big Red Marching Machine at Illinois State.

Even with the success and the trophies, Barnum said he doesn't talk a lot about winning with students.

"What we talk about here is the really the pursuit of excellence," he said. "We want our students to be really proud of what they do."

That pursuit is one of the three pillars that Barnum promotes, along with pride in performance and building connections. Those are values he hopes translate into anything students do in their lives.

"The scores are going to fall how they are, but we can say, 'Yes, we succeeded, because we went out there and did what we wanted to do,'" Barnum said. "And that's something that we really promote with our students."

The 159-member band includes students at all grade levels, including 50 freshmen.

"Our older members set a really great example," Barnum said. "They really serve as mentors to younger members."

The Prospect Marching Knights, performing last month at the Illinois Marching Band Championships at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, where they won first place in the Class 5A category. Courtesy of the Prospect Marching Knights
Chris Barnum, director of the Prospect Marching Knights
The Prospect High School Marching Knights added to its trophy collection this fall. Courtesy of the Prospect Marching Knights
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