Shiloh Eagles Drum up Community Support
Drum corps performs at events, church and more
BY CHARLES LAWRENCE, correspondent, Ocala StarBanner
Members of the Shiloh Eagles Drum Corps march to the beat of a different drum. Make that a whole lot of drums, and cymbals.
The corps is an outreach of the Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Church School in Ocala. There currently are about 20 members, ranging in age from 10 to 18. The group performs for church functions, in parades and competitions, and has long been an attraction for participants and viewers of the annual January march and parade in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr.
“Shiloh has been participating in the MLK parade for several years. It could have been 10 or 15 years ago when they started,” said Ire Bethea, a division head with the city of Ocala Recreation and Parks department and an organizer of the annual MLK events. “They are a very good group of young people. The people on the parade route love the drum corps.”
And, Bethea added, “Whenever you have young people doing positive things, it sets a tone. It makes adults proud.”
The corps instructors are Randolph Scott Jr. and Randall Richards. Scott said the drum corps was started around 1988 and performed until about 1998, then went silent until it was resurrected in 2008.
Richards explained how the group got started.
“One of the founders, Denton Hamilton, was preaching a sermon. He talked about how this church is too big to not have a drum corps. So, after that, Randolph and I wanted to do something about it. We started with no equipment, and no kids who could play drums,” Richards said.
“We were faced with young people with a lot of challenges. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We are like a band of brothers. That’s the most rewarding thing. Having that band of brothers and camaraderie is important,” he added.
Richards and Scott, who performed together in the corps for a number of years, have been instructing for about six years.
Deneicia Rice, a student at North Marion High School, is a section leader and tenor drum player in the corps.
“I feel good when I play with the drum corps,” she said. “We all get along at practice. When we play, I like the way it sounds. I just enjoy playing with my friends. It’s a positive atmosphere.”
Dunnellon High School senior Nyvel Billy is the cymbal leader and also a section leader. She has been playing cymbal for about eight years, two of them with the corps.
“The drum corps keeps me focused and teaches me how to be patient. When I play I feel really happy and excited. I’m ready to learn new things and I’m ready to help others when they are having trouble,” she said.
Leroy Scott III, a student at Forest High School and a cousin of Randolph Scott, plays bass and snare drum.
“It’s a fun atmosphere. Most of the time you are supposed to be serious, but I’m the clown of the group,” he said. “It’s fun to get out in front of the community. Makes you look cool, too.”
Richards said the corps is centered around God.
“It’s about the relationships you build through this group. We’ve taken these young people from not being able to play drums to winning trophies. We got first place at a big competition, Southern Union,” he said. “But it’s not all about the competition. People like to see the results of their hard work. I’m happy that the young people see the results and how we connect with our community. One of the things we say at church is we connect with God, church and our community. The neighborhood really enjoys it. We try to put on a good show.”
Richards also said the group’s activities go wider and deeper than that.
“In the drum corps we talk about how we can help other people. We are ministering to each other. We are ministering to people we come in contact with. We talk to people about the spiritual aspects of our program,” he said. “I have grown extremely close to the young people. It’s really helped with my own faith.”
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