Members of the Jamestown High School Express Winter Guard received blessings from their county executive as they prepared for their final competition of the year.
On Wednesday, Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards met with JHS Express members to congratulate them on their success thus far, and to wish them luck in this weekend's regional championships in Dayton, Ohio.
"Two of my kids go to Jamestown, so I've been familiar with what (Express does), but only locally," said Edwards. "Although I knew that they were successful, I had no idea how successful they had been until, like many, a family member let me know that the team was headed off to the national championship - and going in ranked as No. 1 in the nation. So, when I learned that they were having this little send-off here today, I collected some different background information and prepared a proclamation."
The proclamation, which was read in front of the high school, formally proclaimed today as "Jamestown Express Winter Guard Day" in Chautauqua County.
"It's an effort to celebrate their current standing as No. 1 while, hopefully, informing more people of what they do," he said. "And also, my hope would be to set up an opportunity for more people to be aware of this; so when they come back from this championship, hopefully No. 1 in the nation, people are going to be prepared to celebrate with them."
Edwards said Express will also be hosting an important fundraiser April 20 in the form of a pancake breakfast at Applebee's in Lakewood, which will take place from 8-10 a.m.
"It's from that fundraiser, and others, that they generate the money necessary to do these sorts of things. The school is supportive in transportation to events like this, but the group is required to raise all the money for their uniforms, equipment and other expenses that go along with being successful."
According to Kelly Spencer, a senior and five-year member of Jamestown Public Schools' winter guard program, Express has performed well this year because of camraderie and a good amount of teamwork.
"I definitely think it's the (fact) that we've just really grown as a group. We've really gotten so close, and we're a family. It's not just a bunch of individuals working together, we're a team," she said.
A member of the Winter Guard International organization, Express is currently ranked No. 1 in its WGI class of Scholastic A. This year, Express has competed in, and won, three previous WGI regional competitions in Pittsburgh, Rochester and Cincinnati. The WGI's 2013 World Championships will take place throughout today and tomorrow.
"I am so excited," said Kelly. "Just being able to have this opportunity to go into a world event, and possibly be first in our class in a national title, is so amazing to me."