By Kate Quesada

When 125 high school students from around the country perform at the nationally-broadcast U.S Army All-American Marching Band half-time show on January 7, 2017, Valrico resident Megan Wright will be among them.

A Newsome High School senior and marimba player, Wright was officially asked to join the elite group of musicians and color guard members and given an honorary jacket at a ceremony attended by her fellow band members, classmates, friends and family last month. “This is one of the biggest announcements in the history of Newsome,” said Principal Carla Bruning.

The U.S. Army All-American Marching Band performs each year at halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Band members are chosen not just because they excel musically, but because they are mentally and physically agile, they know the importance of teamwork, and they are able to adapt to challenging situations, similar to U.S. Army Soldiers. SFC Jimmie Lawson represented the Army at the ceremony and spoke about the hard work Wright had put in to achieve this honor. “Only the best are selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl,” said Lawson. “Students have to be dedicated, motivated and live the Army’s values every day.”

For 17 years, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl has been one of the nation’s largest and most important high school football games, serving as the launching pad for America’s future college and NFL stars. Odell Beckham Jr., Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson and Christian McCaffrey made their national debuts as U.S. Army All-Americans.  A total of 330 U.S. Army All-American Bowl alumni have been selected in NFL Drafts. The 2016 game drew a crowd of 39,121 to the Alamodome.

“It is hard to put into words the immense honor I feel to be counted amongst these people,” said Wright, who thanked many people from her grandparents to her fellow band members in her acceptance speech. “I can not express the joy I have to represent Newsome High School.” Wright’s parents, Lloyd and Heather Wright, were also honored at the ceremony with an award recognizing their role in helping their daughter realize her musical dream. “Megan is part of an amazing system which has helped her receive this honor,” said Band Director Michael Miller. “She is part of a great band program at a great high school in a great district. Not everyone has this support system.”

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 7, 2017. The Bowl, presented by American Family Insurance, is owned and produced by All American Games™, a New Jersey-based sports marketing and event management company.

For more information, visit www.usarmyallamericanbowl.com and www.goarmy.com/events/aab. Newsome High School is located at 16550 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia. For more information on the marching band, email Miller at nhswolfpackband@gmail.com.