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Posts Tagged "Class of 1986"

Marching into the Future: Meet Michael Gaines '86

November 08, 2023
By Archbishop Carroll High School

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2023 edition of Reflections.  Please click here to see the rest of the publication.

Long before he was an internationally renowned artist and a driving voice in the marching arts, Michael Gaines ‘86 was a kid mesmerized by the guitar ensemble at Mass at St. Luke Catholic Church in Beavercreek. “Music has been part of my life since I picked up a guitar in second grade and started playing in church a few years later,” Michael recalls.

2018 Drum Corps International World Championships in Indianapolis. 

Decades later, Michael Gaines is one of the most influential minds in the world of marching band and color guard.  He has designed championship winning shows for top Drum Corps International (DCI) groups and high schools across the country, but it was his desire to be a member of the Marching Patriots when he became a student at Carroll is what sparked his love for the activity.  Even though he had never played tuba before coming to high school, Michael’s dedication to the ensemble allowed him to grow into that role and contribute to the most successful season in program history.

The Marching Patriots reached the Bands of America finals during Michael’s freshman year, but the best was yet to come.  The very next season, the band broke through and won the national Class A Championship in the fall of 1983, earning an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl in Miami.  Working with top educators from outside of Dayton to refine the show, rehearsing at the Dayton Convention to avoid the harsh Ohio winter, and fanfare from local newspapers and television stations are still fresh in Michael’s mind – so are the obstacles that came along with his final two seasons as a Marching Patriot. “All of those years were equally impactful to me,” Michael said.  “You got to learn a lesson about how to handle success and a lesson about how to handle falling short of your goals competitively with the realization that this is not just about judges putting numbers on a scorecard.  It’s when I started realizing what the community actually means to me.  As I got farther away from it, I realized how special it was to be in the music program at Carroll and have the educators and fellow members that I had throughout the four years.”

Michael knew his life after high school would include the marching arts, but he did not see a full time future as a music educator.  He stayed close to home, studying finance at the University of Dayton and joined the Carroll band staff as an instructor for the rifle line.  Like his transition to tuba at the start of high school, Michael’s focus shifted towards guard performance and design.  He performed with the Cavaliers of Rosemont, Ill., one of DCI’s top ensembles during the summers of his college years until he aged out of the activity at 22.  The group’s leadership kept Michael on staff after his days as a performer ended, and he spent 20 years teaching the color guard as well as designing seven championship shows.

As I got farther away from it, I realized how special it was to be in the music program at Carroll and have the educators and fellow members that I had throughout the four years.

-Michael Gaines '86

Now, as the Vice President of Winter Guard International’s Executive Board in addition to his career as a show designer, Michael sees continued evolution and a bright future for the marching arts. The activity has grown from its roots as a military exercise into theatrical performances that Michael compares to a production on Broadway or the Las Vegas Strip.  Most modern competitive shows include instruments and equipment that require electricity, intricate drill, choreography for the musicians, and props and stages across the field. Balancing the needs of the ensemble’s different sections – winds, percussion, color guard – in an entertaining way for the audience is how Michael describes his role as a show designer.  Like with any creative medium, Michael combines the technical foundations with creative visions to tell a story that can entertain any audience.

Michael Gaines and The Marching Patriots in fall 1983.  The Patriots performed at the Orange Bowl after being named Bands of America Class A Grand Champions that season.
Posted in Familiar Voices

Patchwork of Memories: A Graduation Gift to Carroll Theater Director

May 15, 2023
By Archbishop Carroll High School

Quilts sewn from scraps of t-shirts are common gifts to high school graduates, but one Archbishop Carroll High School family made one for an educator who has impacted their lives for more than a decade on and off of the Carroll stage.

The Schlegel family has been part of every Freedom Players production since the fall of 2010 – 26 shows under the direction of Toni (Hemmert) Weitz ‘86.  When Anna Schlegel ‘14 made her debut on stage in Pollyanna, her mother Tina helped out by selling tickets and flowers, hosting cast parties, and volunteering at youth summer camps for the drama club for 13 years until her youngest daughter, Tess ‘23, would end the Schlegels’ run on the Carroll stage this spring.  Moments before Tess’s last performance in the 2023 spring musical Back to the 80s, she presented a quilt to Toni with all of the shows that involved this generation of Schlegel performers and crew members, a quilt handmade by Tina.  Many other students and families who have been part of the drama club contributed to the project to help thank Toni for her dedication to the program.

Anna Schlegel ‘14, Maria Schlegel ’18, Toni (Hemmert) Weitz ‘86, Tina Schlegel, Sam Schlegel ’21, and Tess Schlegel '23

“I was very surprised,” Toni said.  “I’ve seen these blankets being made for kids over the years, and to see how it holds all those special memories. To be given that as an adult for a club that is so important to me from a family that is so important to me, it was just really touching.  Knowing that other students donated to do this for me makes it even more special.”

Nick Schlegel '15 (third from left) in Annie Get Your Gun

Anna, Nick ‘15, Maria ‘18, Sam ‘21, and Tess all can recall countless memories from rehearsal and performances, both on stage and behind the scenes, that the blanket symbolizes.  Backstage traditions and small behind the scenes moments remain with Anna.  Nick can recall the view of watching the show from the sound board.  Maria enjoyed making the leap from stage crew in the fall to shining under the lights in spring each year.  Sam looked forward to Toni’s inspirational speeches in the greenroom before every performance.  Like her oldest sister, Tess loved the little moments behind the curtain during the shows. For Tina and her husband Dave ‘88, the theater program at Carroll became like a second family to all of the Schlegels.

“One of the gifts of this program is the bond between Toni and the kids and also between the friendships that they form through these activities,” Tina said.  “I always thought this activity was like high school sporting events. If they’re on the volleyball team, you go to every volleyball game. If they’re in a show, you go to every performance, and if you’re here, you might as well help out.”

Toni also counts the Schlegels as an extension of her family at Carroll.

“It’s really neat when I have a family where all of the kids are involved in the way that the Schlegels have been. There are only a handful of families like that, and five kids is probably the most. It’s just really special to be able to share those moments with all of them and their parents and see the parents that I know I can count on, like Tina and Dave, to do the cast party. It’s great to have families I can count on and to watch the kids grow with my own kids.”

Posted in Voices of Learning
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