CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) -- While the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many of us apart, a spirit of togetherness is helping one high school band capture worldwide attention in northeast Harris County.
Just before the world changed, Crosby High School was on a mission to plant their flag into the rich soil of academic concert band history.
"They are so smart, creative and resilient," said Kevin Knight, Crosby ISD's director of bands. "I am very proud of these amazing, dedicated, hard-working band students."
After winning local, state and national championships in recent years, the band set its sights on capturing an international prize, the Sudler Flag of Honor, recognizing outstanding and consistent musical excellence.
In December 2019, the band lovingly known as the Big Red Machine learned it had won the prestigious award. Then the pandemic hit, delaying delivery of their prized banner.
With victory on their side, others might have decided to rest on their laurels, especially as schools were suddenly left to figure out classes in the face of the coronavirus, but the band played on.
"Participation is really important," said senior clarinet player Karli Sarria. "This year was a real eye-opener to how much participation affects our capability to make music."
As the pandemic raged last December, the band rallied the community by playing a show outdoors, "Christmas in the Park(ing Lot)," where the National Band Association named Crosby's band as a program of excellence.
"The band really taught me the importance of things," flute player and graduate Alyssa Fergerson said. "Everything is not about winning, but it's more so about having fun and forming a bond with one another."
In May, the John Philip Sousa Foundation presented the Sudler Flag to Crosby ISD during the band's Spring Concert.
Finally at home, the flag will be displayed in the band hall starting this school year, a testament to the spirit of the Big Red Machine.
Since its inception 40 years ago, the Sudler Flag has been awarded only 83 times to high schools around the world.