WESTMORELAND — One of Westmoreland High School’s Marching Bulldogs has been selected to be part of Drum Corps International.
Serenity Morris, of Herkimer, who recently graduated from Westmoreland, was chosen to perform with the horn section of the 7th Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps out of New London, Conn. Founded in 2003, 7th Regiment members range in age from 13 to 22 and come from all around the country. The corps is an annual finalist in Drum Corps International’s Open Class and are the three-time Drum Line Battle Champions.
“I will challenge myself to be the best I can be,” said Morris on her fund-raising site. “It is one of the most amazing and rewarding performing arts education experiences in the world. The chance to grow and learn alongside some of the most talented musicians is something few people my age has the chance to do. I will be able to gain values and work ethic that will help guide me my entire life.”
Although Rome’s Drum Corps International show, Drums Along the Mohawk, will celebrate 40 years this year at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2 at Rome Free Academy Stadium on Turin Street, Morris will be between competitions — from Illinois to Michigan.
Morris has an online fund-raising page at https://www.gofundme.com/u8xm47jg to help fund her summer experience. She said besides
becoming a stronger musician, performing has helped build her confidence and motivation.
“Drums Corps is hard to put into words. I could explain the discipline and hard work that go into achieving a great rehearsal, or how after rehearsals I have a better work ethic that funnels into all areas of my life,” Morris said. “Drum Corps is so much more. It is a place that feels like a second home. A safe place without judgment, only hard work, and family.”
She continued, “This family creates more than just beautiful pictures on a field, it creates strong bonds that will last a lifetime. It saves many of us from ourselves, as it gives us a place to finally fit in and be our true selves. We are an amazing family, and we all understand one another. It is incredible to be that close and push one another to be our best self possible.”
In 2016 Morris had her first experience with drum corps. She was contracted with 7th Regiment as a mellophone player. However, that dream was shattered, having to leave that season due to a family commitment.
“My heart ripped into a million pieces. I was just about to move in. I was going to live my dream. I was in a terrible place, but I hadn’t lost my hunger,” Morris said. “I had this burning need to march and so I ended up marching tuba for White Sabers. Since then, I know I can push myself. I had never touched a tuba and yet finished the season like I had been there from the start. This season is different. I am back to prove to myself, and everyone, that I can do this — that I belong on the field, performing with all of my energy and pride.”
Morris was a member of Westmoreland’s Class of 2018. The 18-year-old will attend Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. in the fall, where she will continue her music education. Her goal is to eventually earn her master’s degree in conducting.
For the Pride of Westmoreland Marching Band, Morris served as drum major for the last three years, with her primary instrument in school being the alto saxophone. For 7th Regiment, her mother, Melissa Morris, said Serenity plays mellophone, a three-valved brass instrument that can be compared to the French horn.
“Drum corps will help me cultivate my skills, network and gain experience to help enrich my future students,” she said. “This is my dream, this is my happy place, this is my heaven on earth. This is for me, and for every other kid who can’t find confidence within themselves. In Drum Corps, I have found my confidence, my voice and how to take a step with pride. Those steps just happen to be 8 to 5.”
Mom Melissa said Serenity just finished a “mini tour” with the 7th Regiment that was held June 23 through July 8, mostly in the Boston area and Rhode Island.
“They were performing with mostly bigger corps, like the Boston Crusaders, but now they’re doing an Open Class tour with other Open Class corps,” Melissa said.
Serenity won’t be performing on Drums Along the Mohawk night because she’ll be in between shows. On Aug. 1, 7th Regiment competes in Dixon, Ill., they travel Aug. 2, and on Friday, Aug. 3, they will be in Plainwell, Mich.
On Friday, July 27, “They had a show that night at 7:30 that they didn’t leave until around 9:45. Then they weren’t to their next site until about 4:45 in the morning, so they had to spend the night sleeping on the bus,” Melissa said.
The mother did have an opportunity to see her daughter perform with 7th Regiment when they had stops in Gloversville and Glens Falls for shows.
“I think it’s a fantastic adventure,” the mother said of her daughter. “She’s been an independent kid for as long as I can remember, and she loves music, and she loves everything drum corps represents. This is a great journey and experience for her all the way around.”
Her high school band and marching band teacher, Kristyn Cutler, said she looks forward to seeing all that Serenity accomplishes and the type of educator and musician she will become.
“She’s one of those really special students who will do everything she can do to be great at whatever she sets out to do,” Cutler said. “Her experiences through everything in the music department (in Westmoreland) will set her apart from other people and students. And her experiences with 7th Regiment will open so many windows where she will learn from other musicians and from some wonderful educators, and she’ll be able to bring that to college and put that into her studies.”