Jackson Liberty marching band wins fourth consecutive state championship

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JACKSON – The Jackson Liberty High School Marching Band has won a fourth consecutive state championship.

On Oct. 30, the talented musicians who perform in the band earned the Tournament of Bands title of New Jersey State Champions while competing against bands from across the state at Cherokee High School in Marlton.

The Jackson Liberty band also won awards for Best Percussion, Best Music and Best Visual.

Band Director Scott Katona has been teaching in the Jackson School District for 19 years and has been at Jackson Liberty since the high school, the township’s second building for ninth- through 12th-graders, opened in 2006.

“They basically swept everything,” Katona said of the band’s performance on Oct. 30.

The Jackson Liberty marching band has continued its legacy of success with original music.

“Every year we do original songs. Other bands play music from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and one band did Carole King’s music this year. We do original music, which means it is music that has never been heard or played before. (The music) does not necessarily connect to anything like a superhero theme, and we do that each year,” Katona said.

On Oct. 24, Jackson Liberty won the Region 7 Tournament of Bands crown and took home awards for Best Music and Best Percussion.

“We beat bands from Ocean, Monmouth, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon counties. So we were the region champions and that is how we started, and from there we won the state competition,” Katona said.

Upon their return to Jackson after winning the state championship on Oct. 30, the band members were met by the Jackson Police Department, which provided an escort to the high school. At the high school, the students were greeted and congratulated by their friends and family members.

Katona said the 2021 Jackson Liberty band has 68 members, which is down from a high of about 130 and partially attributable to the coronavirus pandemic. He praised the students in this year’s band for sticking with the program through challenging times.

“We were told by state mandates not to play for a whole year … and for these kids to stick with it the whole time and not give up … is a true testament to them and how much they enjoy being part of the program. … This is a true testament to them and their drive and their willingness to keep at it,” Katona said.

The Jackson Liberty band will perform in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade, which will be broadcast on Channel 6.

“We were invited to the parade and I contacted our sister school Jackson Memorial and asked if they wanted to do the parade together. So we are doing the parade together on Thanksgiving Day as one big band,” Katona said.