The Cicero-North Syracuse Winterguard program has a lot going for it.
It's the longest-running program in the state, having been continuously in existence for 43 years.
"The school has been very supportive of the program for many years," said director Larry Schmidt. "They see the value in the program, and so do the people in the community. That kind of support really helps us to keep going."
And the program has a great record, having won several competitions.
"They're really having a fantastic year," Schmidt said.
In addition, this year's varsity program is earning nationwide accolades, having been named the fourth best guard in the country.
"We were competing with 348 other schools entered in the national rankings," Schmidt said. "It's really amazing to get that kind of honor."
There are three levels to C-NS' program -- the varsity, junior varsity and cadet (seventh- and eighth-graders) -- with a total of 70 kids. The winter season runs from mid-January to the beginning of April. There are also guard clubs for fifth- and sixth-graders as well as fourth-graders in the district.
The winterguard held its home show this weekend at C-NS High School. Local participants in this weekend's show included teams from Liverpool, Central Square, Baldwinsville and West Genesee.
There C-NS kept up its record of excellence. The varsity guard performed to Annie Lenox's "Why," while the J-V squad did an orchestral version of The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." The J-V performance mixed recorded and live music. Finally, the cadets performed to "Explosion."
Schmidt said color guard teaches kids about teamwork and self-discipline.
"When they're part of our program, they learn how to interact with other people," he said. "They learn how to work as a team, and they also learn how to discipline themselves and be responsible."
The skills kids can learn as well as the stability of the program leads students to take part in the activity.
"It's a really stable program," Schmidt said. "We've been around for a lot of years, and we've had some really great people supporting us and helping us out."
More importantly, it's fun.
"The kids enjoy it," Schmidt said. "They enjoy competing. They enjoy performing. And that's really why they do it and why people support it and attend the shows -- they love it."