Sachem Arrows Marching Band Celebrated for Winning NYS Championship

Alicia Chovnick, a senior and drum major, holds the team trophy. The Sachem Arrows Marching Band won the NYS championship in October.

LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY ( / — The Sachem Arrows Marching Band brought home the New York State victory to an excited audience attending a Board of Education meeting.


The team won the NYS championship in Syracuse back on Oct. 27 for Field Band Conference Large School 3. The championship event took place in the Carrier Dome, the enormous nearly 50,000 seat stadium at Syracuse University. OnSachem brought you coverage the evening of that celebratory day.

Fast forward to a recent Sachem Central School District Board of Education meeting where the team—massive in size with its 92 members—made an impressive showing for the board members to honor them. There were so many band members, in fact, that the board of education moved its meeting into the auditorium at Samoset Middle School in Lake Ronkonkoma instead of the usual meeting room.

The marching band is unifying across Sachem, with members representing Sachem High School East in Farmingville, Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma, Sagamore Middle School in Holtsville, Samoset Middle School where the board meeting was held, and Seneca Middle School in Holbrook.

The band includes 29 graduating seniors this school year.

“It feels so incredible that we won first place,” said Alicia Chovnick, a senior and drum major who has been in the band for four years. “It almost doesn’t feel real to this day.”

Joseph Albano, a fellow drum major and senior, said, “This is definitely something very special for me because I’ve been in the band for six years and we hadn’t won for 11 years in the past. Every year we got closer and closer.”

Prior to the October win, the team last won the state championship in 2008.

On the night of the board of education meeting, Chovnick and Albano both talked with OnSachem about a tragedy in 2018 that set the team back emotionally. They lost their close friend and fellow band member Maddie Sparrow. The 17-year-old incoming senior from Lake Grove died suddenly in July 2018 during band practice at Sachem High School East. According to media reports at the time, Sparrow appeared to suffer a medical incident resulting in her death.

“I kind of lost a lot of hope,” Albano said of losing his friend. “But then this year with our comeback and us being as strong as we were fighting through everything, it was phenomenal.”

Chovnick added, “The tragic incident with one of our close friends really brought us down a lot. But then we picked ourselves up, we kept our chins high, and we were able to win. And it feels incredible to know the dedication and passion of every single person in this band.”

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Brothers Tom and Michael Carroll lead the band. Tom serves as the band director. He is also a music teacher in the Patchogue-Medford School District. Michael is the band coordinator and teaches music at Sachem High School North.

Michael Carroll spoke about the journey over the past several months to prepare for what became a winning season.

“We knew we had something really special when we got to the beginning of September when the team was getting stronger and their sound was getting better,” Michael Carroll said. “Their drive was there. We were watching these kids come from school, getting there early practicing. They really wanted to win this year. You could see they had a special aura about them this year.”

Tom Carroll talked about how the group was able to work so well together to achieve success.

“It really is an incredible thing when 92 students can come together and just do one thing,” Tom Carroll said. “I have a job to do, but I have to do this job at this moment and this split second like everybody else. And if we all do it at the right time we all accomplish something so incredible. They experienced that this year. They really have.”

During the board of education meeting, everyone in attendance watched a video of the performance that brought them the state championship. The band flawlessly executed “RemiX” performance, which is an adaptation of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5.”

Dr. Kenneth Graham, Superintendent of Schools, said at the board meeting, “Watching all of you and the movements throughout the performance, we know that doesn’t just happen overnight. We see the hard work and practice that started as early as last spring to get to this point. Congratulations to all of you. Great job. And you certainly made Sachem very proud.”

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