Principal Darrel Herring said he was proud of the students and band director for achieving such high standards.
“Congratulations to the River Ridge Band and director Mr. Daniel Gray. They exemplify what it means to be a Knight,” he said.
International Goodwill Ambassador Duncan Sandys, a former lord mayor of Westminster, surprised the River Ridge Knights Band with an invitation to play in the 2015-16 London’s New Year’s Day Parade.
“In recognition of the unparalleled reputation for outstanding performance abilities,” Sandys read the official invitation, “the patrons and the organizing committee… take great pleasure in extending an invitation to the River Ridge High School Marching Knights to participate in the 30th annual New Year’s Day Parade and Festival.”
Sandys, also the great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, presented the band with an official invitation to march in the parade, which garners
as many as a half-million live spectators and several hundred-million TV viewers around the world.
Gray said “we absolutely accept this invitation,” and thanked Sandys for the honor, saying he was proud of his students.
Sandys presented Gray, Herring and Deputy Superintendent Brian Hightower with gifts after the band accepted the invitation, including a plaque with the Coat of Arms of Westminster.
The River Ridge Band is in its fifth year. Beginning with just 23 students its inaugural year, the band now boasts 150 members, Gray said.
With twice the number of performers as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the London parade is a spectacle across the world, said Festival Director Robert Bone.
Bone said the London spectator’s favorite part of the parade is always “American marching bands,” because bands in England don’t generally move around while they perform.
Herring thanked the Cherokee Board of Education for allowing the Marching Knights the opportunity to participate in the parade and travel to England, and said it’ll be a great experience for students to remember for the rest of their lives, adding he had never been to London himself.
School Board Chair Janet Read and School Board members Patsy Jordan and Kelly Marlow attended the surprise invitation ceremony, which was preceded by a performance by the band.