This I Believe: The Cadets’ Essay Contest – Part 1

Drum corps members and fans bare their beliefs in essays and on the field.

In February, The Cadets were asked by Director George Hopkins to bare their beliefs. As part of the member’s experience, they were asked to share what they believe. What values were central? What makes a difference for the young adults who are Cadets? Once written, their close-held thoughts and values that guide them through life could ultimately end up as part of the corps’ 2007 field program, “This I Believe.”

Today, as The Cadets Move-In for Spring Training at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va., we now begin to share what these 135 dynamic individuals use as their guiding principles. Even more exciting, the four weeks of intense rehearsals leading into the summer tour also signal the launch of The Cadets’ “This I Believe” Essay Contest, where fans, supporters and their families can open up the dialogue to what they personally believe.

Submit your essay on the values you hold dear—what beliefs carry you through life today—and your winning essay could lead to you being invited to enter the field as part of the classic Cadets’ ‘block’ during one of 33 performances this summer.

A new essay winner will take the field with The Cadets every time the corps performs their return-to-tradition program, “This I Believe.” The first winner will join the corps for their debut DCI competition on June 16 in Annapolis, Md.

First Year Cadet Benjamin M. Rauhala believes in strong, confident choices that led him to realizing his dream of marching in the corps he’s admired for so long:

I believe that we dream by instinct and achieve by choice. I am not an extraordinary person, but I dream extraordinary dreams and I am willing to make choices.

I spent three summers touring with a Division II drum corps pit before I joined The Cadets. In Arkansas, during my first summer I had my first truly fantastic show. The crowd was sensational and I felt myself grow as a performer with the power of the reaction. The rush was absolutely extraordinary, and one of the judges commented that my section performed like a certain team in Maroon and Gold. I did not know what the comment meant until I saw The Cadets pit perform for the first time. I was enraptured by their charismatic and virtuosi performances. I dreamed of one day being at that level, and from that day forward when I was playing my best, I was playing like a Cadet.

I chose to become a Cadet. I did not only choose to audition, I chose to do everything in my power to become what I dreamed of. I chose to practice instead of going out at night. I chose to prepare on the weekends instead of resting. I chose to spend my winter break fixing my technique. I chose to go to the audition with the best attitude I could. I chose to ask questions when I did not understand. I chose to write down every comment that was given to me. I chose to focus on my dream.

When decision time came around, I was chosen to be a Cadet.

I may not be an extraordinary person, but I did something extraordinaryI achieved a dream by choice. I am exhilarated by all of my dreams of my days to come with The Cadets and I can tell you with certainty that I am fiercely proud to be a part of that certain team in Maroon and Gold.

The Cadets believe in something special. Do you? Put the proverbial pen to paper and begin to share what is important enough to guide you through life.

For the corps now putting “This I Believe” together on a West Virginia practice field, the values and lessons learned while in drum corps will come to life through music, visuals and voice. “This I Believe” will share why the drum corps experience is one worth living.

“The program uses narrative as a thread, tying together all musical and visual contributions to form a musical memorandum that makes clear the experience youth and adults enjoy through their summers of travel, performance and camaraderie,” said Hopkins in a recent program description. “Voice is integral to design in “This I Believe,” incorporated within the blueprint, not as an overlay, but as an implement for communication, an additional instrument.”

Need more inspiration for your essay?

The Cadets were inspired for their 2007 program by the “This I Believe” national media project that engages millions of people to write, share and discuss core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives. National Public Radio has aired these essays on its news programs “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”

The program is based on a 1950s radio program hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. In creating “This I Believe,” Murrow said the program sought “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor to our civilization.”

Take a look at what people across the globe believe by visiting

About author

Caryn Goebel

Caryn Goebel is a marketing associate at Youth Education in the Arts, an Allentown, Pa.-based organization, providing programs that allow thousands of talented performers to participate in pageantry events around the continent.

Clubhouse Trailers

Your equipment should travel in style! Clubhouse Trailer Company based in Edmond, Okla., specializes in custom trailers for marching band and related activities. From Halftime ...