Miami County grads headed to Ireland; Locals in UD band to march in Dublin parade


By Haylee Pence

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MIAMI VALLEY – The University of Dayton’s Pride of Dayton Marching Band will be soon traveling to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland on March 17. Director Kenneth Will stated, “This is an honor that is reserved for a select few bands and an opportunity for our students to shine on the world stage.”

Not only will the band be performing in the parade, but those students, including some from the Miami County area, will have the opportunity to “explore the extraordinary country of Ireland,” Will said. Some of the sites the students will be able to see include the Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny Castle, Rock of Cashel, the Titanic Museum in Belfast, and EPIC: Irish Emigration Museum.

The band is under the direction of Will and Assistant Director James Leslie with the Color Guard Captain Imani Prophet.

The application process began in 2017, which involved videos and photos of the band’s performances along with “biographical details” about the band and the University of Dayton. The Pride of Dayton Marching Band was originally accepted to perform in the 2021 parade, but with the pandemic, the parade was rescheduled a year. Because of this, previous members who have graduated have been allowed to perform with the 2022 marching band.

“The band will march through O’Connell Street, through Parnell Square, and through the shadow of St. Patrick’s Cathedral before concluding at St. Stephen’s Green,” according to Will. Following the parade, the marching band will present a concert in the courtyard of Kilkenny Castle.

There are five band members who are from the Miami County region, which includes the following members:

• Makenna Santos from Covington High School

• Ryan Hunt from Wayne High School

• Haylee Hunt from Wayne High School

• Rachel Sebastian from Bethel High School

• Justin Meiring from Troy High School

Santos is currently a Wright State student and is a first-year student. She is majoring in psychology with a pre-degree in occupational therapy. In the band, she plays trumpet, and she has been a member for one season. Santos stated, “I am excited to perform for such a big crowd and travel to a different culture and country. This is going to be an entirely new experience to me. I love my section; everyone has felt like a family to me, some of these people have motivated me to do so many other things like pep ban, or support my choices and my future. I can’t wait to see what next season brings.”

Ryan Hunt, younger brother to other band member, Haylee Hunt, is a University of Dayton student and is currently in his sophomore year. He is double majoring in education and history. In the band, he plays trombone and is in his second-year of being a band member. Ryan Hunt stated, “I am very excited for the Ireland trip! I have never been out of the country, and this will be a culturally-enriching experience for me. I am excited to make memories with my friends. I cannot wait to see what it is like in Ireland, and of course I’m excited to show the people of Ireland what the Pride of Dayton is all about!” In response to being in band with his sibling, Ryan Hunt stated, “Being in a band with my sister has its ups and downs. I am very grateful that she was in the band my freshman year. I went into this organization knowing no one except her, and having her there my freshman year was comforting.”

Haylee Hunt, older sister to Ryan Hunt, is currently a Kent State University master’s student in library and information science. She graduated from the University of Dayton in December 2020 with a Bachelor of the Arts in history with a minor in anthropology. She is one of the alumni who was invited to go on the trip. While at the University of Dayton, she participated in the band for three years and played alto saxophone. Haylee Hunt stated she is looking forward to “immersing myself in the culture and being able to take in all of the history of Ireland. Being able to play in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a real honor and something I’ll never forget.” In response to being in band with her sibling, Haylee Hunt stated, “Since he is three years younger than me, I had the privilege of spending one year in the band with him. This was the same way in high school in the Wayne High school marching band. It is fun seeing him enjoy it just as much as I have. I sort of envy him because he has more years in the band left than I do!”

Sebastian is a University of Dayton student and is a junior. Her major is applied mathematical economics. She has been in the marching band for one season and plays clarinet. Sebastian stated, “I am most excited about experiencing another country with friends since I’ve never been to another country before.”

Meiring is a dual-enrolled student at Sinclair and University of Dayton and is a second-year freshman after transferring to University of Dayton to join their marching band. He is a music education major. He has been involved in the band for one season and plays the sousaphone. Meiring stated, “I’m most excited to perform in the parade. My family has Irish origins and so it’ll be great to see where my family comes from. I’m excited to get to see some of the Irish culture. Most college kids don’t get the incredible opportunity to learn about different Irish customs and practices in the culture and traditions.”

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