Dawson County High School's marching band took home top honors Saturday during the Blue Ridge Mountain Marching Festival in Fannin County.
"Our students' performance set them apart. They are really starting to play the show well and with much better precision, and it showed in their scoring and placement," said Band Director Chuck Arnold.
The Tiger Pride Marching Band placed first overall among the six schools in Division A.
Drum Major and percussion also took home first place awards, while color guard earned a second place finish.
In his first year leading the band, Arnold said he couldn't be more proud of his students.
"The band has faced numerous challenges this year, from a new director with new expectations, to a never ending pattern of bad weather causing numerous rehearsal adjustments," he said. "In spite of it all, they have really stepped up as a group and made things happen."
Arnold refuses to take any credit for the success.
"I never, ever try to make this about me or something I am doing because it is truly all about the kids," he said. "I am incredibly proud of these kids, their attitude and work ethic, and their determination to make this program something this community can take pride in."
Drum Major Sarah Tinsley was emotional about the win Saturday night and praised her team for their hard work and determination.
"Even had we not placed tonight, nor gotten the scores we had hoped for, I am so thankful that we have come so far," she said. "From the first day of band camp, we have grown so much as a band and as musicians."
The band's final competition of the year is in two weeks at the Peach State Marching Invitation in Rome.
"As for momentum, I think the recognition the band received last Saturday will push them to finish strong and perform equally well in Rome in a couple of weeks," Arnold said. "They were ecstatic to hear we had won our division Saturday, so I hope that pushes them to new heights."