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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 10,000 high school kids are taking over downtown this weekend for a national band competition.

Music for All’s ‘Bands of America Grand National Championships’ goes until Saturday night.

On Thursday night, Avon Marching Band was among a couple of dozen groups performing in Lucas Oil Stadium for the 44th annual competition. The 256-member band performed a program called “un baroque n,” based on the period in Western European art music from about 1600 to 1750.

Avon is one of 16 bands from Indiana performing in the competition. More than 90 other bands from all across the country are taking part. Students have been prepping for this competition since September.

Avon is a three-time Grand National champion and, as of last weekend, a 14-time Indiana state champion.

An Avon drum major, senior Mariah Shelton, said she transferred from a private school to Avon and got emotional talking about making that transition. She said joining the band and being in competitions such as the Grand Nationals have made tackling high school a lot easier.

“As much as we don’t like to think about it, there are kind of cliques in high school, and band is just so accepting with all different types of people. We all just love each other so much, and it’s just like a family. I don’t know, we’re all kids and we are all growing up and we’re still trying to figure ourselves out and having a group of people who will stick with you through that is so comforting and so relieving.”

Thirty bands from Thursday and Friday’s preliminaries will advance to Saturday’s semifinals. The top 12 scoring bands on Saturday will move on to the evening finals competition, where the Grand National champion will be named. Tickets range from $15-$135.

(Photo by WISH)