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A Miracle Championship
The year was 2145. Space travel had risen above all other forms of transportation. Airplanes no longer existed, Supertrains replaced Amtrak, and cars were now hovercrafts. But the biggest thing of all was that everything happened in space now. Everyone took vacations in space hotels. And, after water was discovered on the moon, if you could afford thee $40,000,000 trip (inflation was big after the Stock Market Crisis of 2050), the beautiful moon beach resorts were the place to go.
But for schools around the world, space travel meant one thing: the World March Championship. The top 100 student marching bands across the entire globe traveled to Mars for a one-week stay in the hotel meant specifically for the band students. The competition compromised of three different ensemble mini-competitions: the Jazz ensemble, the Percussion ensemble, and the main attraction: thee Marching Band. The winner got International fame and $10,000,000 for their music programs.
For Adira, the championship was only a dream. She knew that her marching band would never get there. In her mind, they couldn't even march in a straight line! And as another year started, she knew that there was no way that they would make it. That was... until she walked into the school.
All band students had to report to band for homeroom. Adira walked into the room, only to find that her normal band teacher was not there, but rather, a young man who didn't look much older than Adira herself. He turned towards her as he heard the door open.
"Good morning, miss", he said with a smile.
"Um... good morning. Is Mrs. Kowley not coming in today?"
"I think it would be best for me to explain everything once everyone gets here," he said. His tone suddenly became very serious.
When the bell rang at 8:00, all of the band kids sat promptly in their seats in their respective sections. Since Adira was a junior-year clarinetist, she sat in the 3rd chair. This is where she would have normally sat; Mrs. Kowley did seating not based on skill, but by age.
The man at the front of the room attempted to do roll call, and then gave the kids a speech.
"My name is Mr. Sapson. I'm your new band teacher," he said.
"WHAT?!?!?!?" the entire band called out.
"What happened to Mrs. K?" asked Johnny, the first chair trumpet player.
"From what I understand, Mrs. K was fired following budget cuts for the music department. I will try to do my best to pick up where she left off."
"How exactly is this going to work?" said Adira. "We've all had Mrs. Kowley from the moment we became band students."
"Yes, I know, but I will do my best to be a great replacement," Mr. Sapson said.
"Will there be any changes?" asked Teri. Teri was a sophomore percussionist who had been looking forward to finally starting out on the drum line.
"Absolutely," Mr. Sapson said. "First off, the seating arrangement thet you are in now? That's going to change. I will be holding auditions this week to determine the chair assignments."
"Secondly, the marching band? That's going to change as well. Effective immediately, marching band is MANDATORY for all students in my band."
Adira, Teri and Johnny started to worry.
"Thirdly, I am going to pound this marching band into the ground. We WILL make it to the world championship this year on Mars, no matter what it takes."
"What's so funny Miss, Adira, is it?"
"With all due respect, Mr. Sapson, we can't even march correctly!"
The band laughed. They all knew it was true.
"But we could learn!" said Lili. Lili was the blond, "popular" teacher's pet who pretended to play flute.
"Thank you, Lili. Now, here's a list of audition times for next week. Make sure you sign up for a time."
As Adira signed up and walked away, the second-class bell rang, and Adira, Johnny, and Teri walked to their next class togetheer.
"I don't know... I don't necessarily like this new teacher," Johnny said.
"Oh, shut up," Teri said. "You're just nervous that you will lose your first chair position."
"It's not my fault I'm actually truly better than anyone else," screamed Johnny.
"Would you both shut up?" Adira said. "We're not going to lose our chair positions. If anything, Teri, you and I will get better positions."
"Meh. What I want to know is how he knew Lili already," Teri pondered.
"Let's not worry about theat right now," Adira said. "Let's focus on thee auditions," she exclaimed as the three went their separate ways.
Adira showed up early for her audition 3 days later. She was excited to perform sometheing she had been working on for a year: an advanced version of Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. When she walked into the office, Mr. Sapson seemed happy.
"Whenever you want to start, go right ahead," Mr. Sapson said, his eyes sparkling with happiness.
Adira started playing. By thee time she had finished, she wanted to cry. She had never played it theat beautifully or perfectly before. Mr. Sapson seemed impressed.
"Brava, Adira," he exclaimed. "I've never heard anyone play theat so wonderfully."
"Thank you, sir. Mrs. Kowley couldn't believe that I could play it. I picked it out myself."
"Well, I believe that you have an enormous potential. In fact, may I ask you a question?"
"Sure..." Adira didn't really know how to respond. How could she say no?
"As I told the band, marching band is now mandatory. But looking at the new rules, I saw sometheing different. Now, all of thee sections must have a visible leader, and there will be a section leaders-only performance as well."
"Withe all due respect, Mr. Sapson, what does this have to do with me?"
"I would like you to be the leader for the Clarinet section. This would also secure a first-chair position for you in our other ensembles."
Adira was speechless. "Yes! I would be honored! If you don't mind me asking, who else are the leaders?"
"Hmm... let me think. That boy Johnny is leader of the trumpets, Teri is the leader of the bassline, and Lili will be leader of the flutes. That's all I have so far."
"LILI?!?!?! LILI CAN'T PLAY TO SAVE HER LIFE!!!!"
"Now, now. I've heard Lili play, and she is a phenomenal player. I believe she has the potential to be a strong leader."
"Ha! Haha! You don't know what you're doing."
"But there is sometheing I would like to give you, Johnny and Teri that I can't give to anyone else."
"And what is that?"
"I also have to pick "student directors". These students must be able to take over the direction of the band at any event in the event that I can not. I have chosen the three of you. You are perfect for thee job."
"Thank you, sir! I won't let you down!"
Johnny, Teri and Adira met at the coffee shop as usual after school that day.
"Wow, student directors. I feel so official now!" Teri exclaimed.
"Don't let it get to your head, Ter. It's a big responsibility," said Johnny.
"So I'm excited. I'm thee leader of the bass line! That's unheard of for a sophomore."
"Like I said, don't let it get to your head, TER."
Teri stuck out her tongue at Johnny. Adira was amused.
"Johnny, there is one pro to this," Adira said. "It's only the three of us. Lili's not included."
"YES! I finally beat her at something!" Johnny exclaimed. Ever since Kindergarten, Lili and Johnny had been in competition. Junior year didn't make a difference.
"Oh, and Mr. Sapson said to bring walking shoes tomorrow. He said it's marching day," Adira warned.
"Yay," Johnny said sarcastically. "Can't wait."
"Hey, it'll be fine," Adira said. "I'm sure we can handle it."
"Ugh! That was horrible!" Adira exclaimed when she walked into the coffee shop. "I can't feel my legs!"
"Didn't I say it would be bad?" Johnny said in an "I told you so" fashion.
"Oh, shut up!" Teri butted in. "But... at least we can walk in a straight line!"
"It's a start," said Adira. Just theen, Mr. Sapson and Lili walked in and weaseled theeir way towards the three leaders.
"Hey guys," Mr. Sapson cheerfully said.
"Hey, Mr. S," the three said in unison.
"Hey guys! So what did you think of marching practice?" Lili exclaimed.
"Um... good?" Johnny said, confused. "No offense, Lili, but what are you doing with Mr. Sapson so late?"
"What? A girl can't help her favorite band teacher prepare for sectionals?" Lili asked.
"Oh, don't flatter me, Lili. I'm always happy for the help," Mr. Sapson said.
"Suck-up!" Teri said in between fake coughs.
"Come on, Teri. She's not a suck-up. She's just helpful," scolded Mr. Sapson.
"We should be heading back now. See you tomorrow. Let's get ready for sectionals!" an entheusiastic Lili said as the two left.
"I don't like that," Johnny suspiciously said. "I think we should keep our eyes on them."
"You're right, Johnny," Adira said. "Let's see how this year plays out before the championship."
As the year went on, the three student directors couldn't believe the evolution of their marching band. First, they won sectionals, theen regionals, then States, and before they knew it, Nationals! They found out that they were in fact going to the World March Championship in May, and the three couldn't believe what was happening.
But they also noticed sometheing else. Adira started noticing that Mr. Sapson took many days off from school. Not that it was a big problem for her; the band seemed to perform better under thee tutelage of the Student Directors than with Mr. Sapson. Johnny also noticed that whenever Mr. Sapson was out, Lili was out too. The directors started to put the pieces of thee puzzle together; sometheing was brewing between the two, and the three would not rest until they figured out what it was.
Monday had finally come. The Spaceshuttle for Mars was leaving on Friday, and Adira, Johnny and Teri were prepping the band with the final routine. Adira thought that Mr. Sapson would be kind and let the students direct, since he was never there. However, for the past week, Mr. Sapson had insisted that he would be directing to ensure a win.
It was 4th class, and Adira, Johnny and Teri were all in Space Rock Shop when the phone rang.
"Adira, Johnny and Teri, you are wanted in the superintendent's office immediately," their teacher grimly said.
They couldn't figure it out. What had they done wrong? Were they in trouble? Were they banned from the championship?? As they walked into the office, they sat down, and the superintendent started to speak.
"I'm sorry to say that there is a bit of an issue," the superintendent said.
"Wh-wh-what's going on?" Teri asked, terrified.
"Well, Mr. Sapson is no longer working in our school district."
"WHAT?!?" all three exclaimed.
"Why?" Adira asked.
"We have found some evidence that he was dating a student, which is grounds for termination and loss of certification."
"This is horrible!" Johnny said. "We have the championship on Friday!"
"I know, Johnny, which is why I've called you three here. Before he left, Mr. Sapson told me that he had elected you three as Student Directors in the event that he could not direct. It's up to you now. You decide whether your band still goes on Friday."
Adira jumped and screamed, "We'll do it! We're still going!"
"Adira! Are you nuts?" Teri asked.
"Think about it, Ter. The band performed better under us than with him. We can do this."
"Let's do it," Johnny said.
"Splendid," the superintendent said. "I'll call the committee and let them know that you're still going."
"One more thing, sir," Adira interrupted. "Will the student be returning to school?"
"Adira. We've banned her from setting foot in this school or going anywhere near you students until you return from your trip. She will not be attending the trip with you."
"I see..." Adira said.
"Now, I've excused you three from classes for the next few days. You have some preparing to do."
"Thank you, sir. We won't let you down," Adira said as she froze. She remembered saying those words to Mr. Sapson at the beginning of the year.
"I KNEW IT! I FREAKING KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING GOING ON!!" exclaimed Johnny as he entered the band room.
"Didn't we all?" Teri said.
"Never mind that!" Adira yelled. "We need to figure out our plan for the week. We are solely responsible for 200 kids!"
"Relax, Adira," Johnny said calmly. "We can do it. They love us. Anyone who doesn't want to go doesn't have to."
"Okay. And I'll call the committee and see if we can be exempt from anything."
"Good. Girls, we're going to do this. Not for Mr. Sapson, but for us. For the band."
"All for one and one for all!" Teri screamed, excited.
It was finally Friday. Adira and Johnny had stayed at Teri's house making final preparations for the trip. Upon calling the championship board, the band was exempt from the Jazz and Section Leaders competitions, which would not affect their score. Teri convinced Adira to let the Percussion Ensemble stay; she had trained them all week to be ready. When the news was broken to the band, the three asked if anyone would no longer like to go on the trip, but that if you still went, you had to carry your weight, or you would be sent home at your expense. Nobody raised their hands. The student directors felt confident that they would be great, maybe even win! One could only hope.
When they arrived on Mars, they went straight to the hotel. There was no fun time here; the Percussion Ensemble was going to perform, and the rest of the band had to go for support. Adira and Teri had to share a room, and they let Johnny have the luxurious Director's room to himself. Adira walked in to see Teri crying.
"I'm scared, Adira," Teri said. "What if we don't do well?"
"You will, Ter," Adira reassured her. "You guys have worked hard. You can do it."
"You really think so?" Teri asked.
"I know so."
Adira could not have been more right. Teri stood with her head high as captain of the Drum Line, and led the ensemble in the best performance of their year. They were the only drum line to receive a perfect score that night.
"See? I told you so," Adira said.
"You were amazing," said Johnny.
"Thanks, guys," Teri said. "And who knows? Maybe this is a foreshadowing of what will happen tomorrow with the Marching Band."
Adira, Johnny, and Teri could only hope.
The students were scared as they waited in line the next day. They eagerly watched the other bands perform until they were next to go. Adira stood up to talk to the band.
"Okay, guys. I know it's been a tough road, but we can do this! I'm sure of it. We're going to go out there and show the audience that the loss of our band teacher isn't going to bring us down! Let's get out there and win this!"
The band cheered. Suddenly, they could hear the announcer in the distance.
"Well done! And now, please welcome, our champions from the United States! Under the direction of students Adira Deedle, Johnny Alopp, and Teri Heiser, give it up for the Zanas High School Marching Band!"
Adira turned to her band one more time. "Let's do this."
Johnny and Teri turned around with her. The three screamed the starting call in unison.
And they were off. No turning back now. The whole world was watching as the band executed every move perfectly and played every note with precision. Adira looked back many times, smiling. They didn't need a stupid band teacher or Lili. They could do it all on their own.
When the performance was over, the band received a 5-minute standing ovation. When it ended, the band sighed in relief.
"And now, we wait," Johnny whispered to Adira and Teri.
The band had had a blast over the past week. The girls shopped, and the boys went to the sports arenas and battled each other in Rockball. They all knew that all good things must come to an end, but not before the winner was crowned. The band anxiously waited in the arena for the names of the winners to be called. This time, Johnny turned to the band.
"No matter what happens, you guys did a phenomenal job, and you will always be first in our book," Johnny said. The crowd quieted.
"In third place, the Marching Men of Mecca!" the announcer said as the band's director accepted the trophy.
"In second place... the Russian Rouletters!" Johnny was starting to get nervous now. These bands were so much better than their's. He held Adira and Teri's hands nervously.
"And finally, your World March Champions......."
The three shut their eyes.
"......the Zanas High School Marching Band from the United States!"
The band couldn't believe it. They had won! They went from not being able to march to winning the championship in a year! Adira, Teri and Johnny went up to accept the trophy, and the band cheered with them.
With the championship trophy and $10,000,000 check in hand, the kids boarded the space shuttle for the ride home.
"Adira? What are we going to do with the money?" one kid asked.
"Well, I'm going to see if we can use it to hire our band teacher back," Adira said.
"Mr. Sapson?" another student asked.
"No! Mrs. Kowley!" Adira said. "We're going to make sure that we get the best band teacher ever with this money."
That saying rang in her head until they arrived back home.
After all the kids had gone home, Adira, Johnny and Teri went to the band room to put the trophy in the empty case. When they turned the lights on, they were in for a surprise.
"Hey guys!" Lili exclaimed.
"Lillian." Johnny said. "What do you think you're doing here?"
"Why, I just wanted to congratulate you guys for winning! And for taking over the band on such short notice. I know how tough that must have been. I wish I could've been there with you."
"Shut up," Johnny said. "It's your fault anyway."
"My fault? How is it my fault?"
"DON'T PLAY DUMB, YOU BLOND, BIMBO IDIOT! WE KNOW THAT YOU DID IT WITH MR. SAPSON!"
"Johnny, calm down," Adira said.
"NO! I WILL NOT CALM DOWN! You think you can do anything you want and get away with it? It doesn't work like that."
"You think so, huh Johnny? Well, it does. How do you think all of the other teachers you loved left?" Lili taunted. She stood up, and Johnny came towards her. "You wouldn't hit a girl, would you?"
Johnny punched her in the stomach twice. She crouched over in pain.
"Jonathan! What did you do that for!?!" Teri asked.
Johnny pulled Lili up by her hair. He ripped her shirt open to reveal something they didn't expect: a protuding stomach.
"Yeah, he and I are having a baby. So what? Except you just probably killed it!"
"That was the point," Johnny said as he dragged her down to the superintendent's office.
An hour later, he returned. "Well, Lili has been expelled from Zanas High School and is now forbidden to step within 100 feet of the school or any of us, and the police are on their way to arrest Mr. Sapson."
"Good. That's how it should be," Teri said as the three started walking home.
"You know, this is definitely a crazy year. But we got the miracle championship we needed, and who knows what will be thrown our way next year," Adira said.
The next year, the band started fresh with Mrs. Kowley as returning band director. She kept the same seating chart as the previous year, and named Adira, Johnny and Teri the official leaders of the marching band. She made it optional, but nobody quit. The band made it to the championship again, but this time, placed second to the band from Peru. Adira, Johnny and Teri were okay with that.
When Adira and Johnny graduated that June, they said their emotional goodbyes to Teri, and told her to take good care of the band. The two went to college together to become music teachers, and later married. They eventually both got jobs two districts apart, and each trained their own marching bands.
7 years after her high school championship, Adira's own marching band under her direction had qualified for the World March Championships. Five days before they were scheduled to leave, one student vocalized his concern about winning.
"I just don't think we will win, Mrs. Alopp," he said. "I don't think we're good enough."
Adira smiled and looked at him.
"Let me tell you the story of my high school career, and the year that we won the championship..." as she showed him the picture of Johnny, Teri, and herself, all holding the trophy that entitled their band to international fame. On the top of the frame read three words, each one written by a different one of the three student directors:
"The Miracle Championship".