Call it a peak performance.
The Maize High School marching band received best in show honors at this year's Neewollah Marching Band Festival, with a rendition of "Everest — The Ascent."
The band also received honors for Best Percussion, taking home two of the festival's top four awards.
The Derby High School Marching Band took home the Best Color Guard award.
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More than 20 high school bands, including Wichita's North High, participated in this year's festival, held Oct. 29 in Independence.
Maize's four-movement performance foretold the strenuous climb up Mount Everest, the environment of the climb and, finally, the mountain's summit.
The Maize High band program is led by co-directors Grant Whitcomb and Bryan Kirk. About 150 students are in the marching band.
Earlier in the school year, Kirk said, the students had what they thought was a disappointing performance at a different festival.
"Finally at the end of the season, we put our best show out there at the right time and the kids were rewarded for it," Kirk said. "That's what our goal was. It wasn't to win necessarily, but to rise to that occasion, and they did it. That's the greatest feeling in the world when you're a teacher — to watch your kids get better each and every day."
Senior Kaylie Wilson, co-drum major along with classmate Lizzy DeRoulet, said the metaphor of climbing the mountain wasn't lost on the students.
"Marching band is a lot of working hard and there's a lot of up and downs," said Wilson, 17. "You're struggling to get up that mountain and when you get there, it's deeply rewarding. That was a really great feeling."
Derby High senior Jacklyn Williams said a few tears spilled as Derby's award was announced.
"We were all actually surprised — weren't expecting it," she said.
The color guard comprises 15 students in Derby High's 170-member marching band.
The band played an eight-minute, three-movement work called "Aquarium," written by Johan de Meij.
The color guard swung blue and purple flags during the first two movements before ending with large yellow, green and pink flags.
The students performed terrifically, director of bands Adam DeVault said.
DeVault also praised Color Guard coordinator Tamaira George, who works directly with the group.
Senior Tori Lewis, who plays the mellophone, said she was proud of the color guard. Lewis said the band made strides throughout the year, culminating in the year-end Neewollah performance.
"I love the progress we make every season. Even Mr. DeVault gets better every year," she said. "I enjoy seeing people get better as time goes on."