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    (8/8/2008) (NEW HAVEN)-- Earlier this week, 43 drillers and 7 drummers from New Haven’s Nation Drill Squad and Drum Corp. captured first place at the Elks World National Drill and Drum Competition in Detroit, Mich. The competition included bands from all over the United States. The Nation Drill Squad and Drum Corp. was the only band representing Connecticut. During the competition the performance of drill and drum bands was rated by military judges on a scale of 1-10 in two categories: Fancy Trick and Precision. A press conference will be held at the “Q House” or Dixwell Community House on Monday August 11th at 5pm where the team will perform their award winning act.

    For 20 years the Nation Drill Squad and Drum Corp. in New Haven has been dedicated to providing children and youth with an artistic way of expression in order to prevent negative behaviors such as drug use, gang violence, and teen pregnancy. This program was started in the Dixwell area neighborhood and today serves over 80 youth between the ages of 4 and 21 (20 males and 60 females) from all throughout the City of New Haven. Practices are held 6 days a week: 3 days at the Old Helen Grant School on Wall Street and 3 days at the Charles Street Police Substation.

    The director of the band, Doug Bethea, has stated that this triumph means the world to him, as he has been involved in this activity for more than 20 years. Marching bands are his “first love.” He believes that his commitment to marching bands along with basketball and sports kept him off the streets. He added that, for him, “this is a way of giving back to the community.” Bethea is very proud of the kids for staying focused even when the environment many of them live in often includes negative elements such as street violence. The “kids love it and this has given them a chance to travel and expand their view of life.”

    In the opinion of 16-year-old Ronald Huggins, Assistant Director of the squad, “this program has helped kids to express themselves and channel their energy in a positive way.” He looks at Monday’s event as an opportunity to thank the City of New Haven, the Board of Education, and other members of the community for “helping kids that normally would not have a chance to travel outside of New Haven to have an opportunity to participate in a competition where they can express themselves and represent their city.”

    Among the local supporters that have made this program possible are: the City of New Haven, the New Haven Housing Authority, Shaws Supermarket, Whalley Chiropractor, Mid-K Beauty Supply Store, Popeye’s, and The United Way.

    # # #

    For additional information please contact:

    Doug Bethea, Director

    Telephone: 676-5134

    Ronald Huggins, Assistant Director

    Email Ron: ronald06514@yahoo.com

    Telephone: 809-4045

    Contact Name: Jessica Mayorga

    Contact Email: jmayorga@newhavenct.net

    Contact Phone: 203-946-7660

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