Bridgewater College Marches to the Beat of Its Own Drumline

Bridgewater College, in its 140th year of educating global-minded citizens in the liberal arts, is rich in history and traditions. Events such as Homecoming week bring together the entire BC community (alumni, current students, faculty, staff and friends of the College) and provide lasting memories that deepen bonds with one another.

Starting in fall 2021, and thanks to a generous gift from a longtime supporter of the College, an old tradition will be new again at Bridgewater College: The Screamin’ Eagles Marching Band returns to campus. The marching band and color guard are the latest examples of top-notch musical groups and ensembles at the College, including the Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Strings, Concert Choir and Chorale. The new marching band has roots in a strong and enthusiastic pep band that started in the early 1990s.

But the marching band program, open to both music and non-music majors, will serve as more than just a musical outlet for students. The opportunities to strengthen leadership and cooperation skills, as well as the mental and academic discipline required, align perfectly with Bridgewater’s mission of educating the whole person and graduating engaged, thoughtful and collaborative citizens.

“Not only will a marching band add excitement to our sports and campus events, it’s also a wonderful way to teach teamwork and communication and leadership skills that are transferrable into nearly every vocation,” said Dr. Jeff Pierson, Professor of Communication Studies & Theatre and Division Head of Communication, Fine Arts and Literature.

Judy Nolen Henneberger, Bridgewater College Class of 1964, along with her late husband, Ed, Class of 1963, have supported the College in numerous ways throughout the years, including two gifts that funded upgrades to the Concert Hall at the Carter Center for Worship and Music and helped transform music education classrooms on campus into interactive learning spaces. Henneberger’s most recent gift, in honor and in memory of her husband, provided funding for the startup costs of the marching band.

“Giving to Bridgewater College has been a natural thing for me and my husband because of our great appreciation for what the College has done for us and for what it continues to do for others,” Henneberger said. “Being able to help current and future students on their paths to success has brought us such joy.”

Dr. Maureen Silva, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, said the College is incredibly thankful for alumni and donors such as Henneberger, who support Bridgewater’s vision for the future in establishing new avenues of learning and experiences for its students. In appreciation of the couple’s support, the College will name the forthcoming band pavilion, both a storage and rehearsal space for the marching band, the Ed and Judy Nolen Henneberger Band Pavilion.

“It’s really an honor to be in partnership with the College on establishing the marching band program,” said Henneberger, who was a music major at Bridgewater and went on to work as a music educator in the Fairfax County Public School System. “Through the years I’ve seen how a marching band program can enhance one’s intellectual abilities, social abilities, group collegiality, school spirit and so many other things. It brings the community together in a lot of different ways, which is tremendous.”

The marching band, expected to number 110 students in a few years—double the number of the current pep band—will serve as both a tool for recruiting and retaining students. In addition, participating students from all majors will be invited to audition for scholarships.

“There are not many other schools in the region that offer the small liberal arts college experience as well as a marching band experience, ” said Dr. Christine Carrillo, Associate Professor of Music and Department Chair. “This will attract a whole new group of future Eagles.”

The marching band, which includes brass and woodwinds, color guard, front ensemble and full drumline, will perform at home football games as well as away games, join in Homecoming week events and participate in local festivals, parades and exhibitions. In the spring, band members will have the opportunity to be part of the basketball pep band. A marching band also offers students valuable leadership skills with the chance to take active roles as a section leader or drum major. This opportunity for real-world experience will be especially beneficial to instrumental music education majors who are planning future careers as high school band directors.

“The Screamin’ Eagles Marching Band is an exciting opportunity for our students and our whole community because it brings excitement to athletic events, Homecoming and other campus events and will offer students hands-on experience in leadership positions, which will set them up for great success in their future careers,” Carrillo said.

To learn more about the Screamin’ Eagles Marching Band, visit bridgewater.edu/marchingband.

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