Olathe teens are All-American marching musicians

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OLATHE, Kan. -- When the nation's premier high school football stars play next week, January 3rd, in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game, they won't be the only high school all-stars taking the field. One hundred twenty-five of America's top high school marching musicians will be performing there, too, including this week's Fox 4 Young Achievers.

For almost all of the members of the Screamin' Eagle Marching Band from Olathe North High School who took the field at the school's football playoff game in early November, it would be one of the last performances of the school year. But for two of them, an important marching band experience is still ahead.

"They're both exceptional musicians, exceptional performers, wonderful student leaders for us," said Olathe North Director of Bands Justin Love.

Love is talking about drum major Marisha Madhira, who also plays clarinet, and mellophone player Carolyn Culp. The seniors will be marching and playing again at The Alamodome in San Antonio, TX over the holiday break.

"This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Marisha.

After a highly competitive and demanding audition process, these Fox 4 Reaching 4 Excellence Young Achievers of the Week were named to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. They are the only two from Kansas and Missouri on the elite group of 125 marching musicians who will perform at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game featuring the nation's star high school football players. It's one of the top honors in high school music

"The fact that they foot all the expenses for the students, they get to be treated like star athletes, star scientists, star professionals in any field, they get that experience," said Love. "And I think that's what makes this one that much more unique and special."

Carolyn and Marisha have scored many big accomplishments in music both at school and as members of top community honor youth orchestras. Becoming All-Americans is the icing on the cake.

"I know I've done so much work and now I feel like I've gotten -- this is my reward," said Marisha.

"This is great and then getting to go down with all these other people who have the same passion and the same love for music," said Carolyn.

Music is far from the only thing Marisha and Carolyn have done very, very well. They've hit high notes in many different pursuits. And they've done a lot of it together, for years, finding common ground at Olathe North for other high-level activities and academics, like the Distinguished Scholars program. As outstanding science students, they've been on the team that developed the winning entry in this year's Battle of the Brains student competition for a new exhibit at Science City at Union Station. In their long friendship, Carolyn and Marisha have fed off each other's success.

"I think Carolyn is such a hard worker," said Marisha about what she admires most in her friend. "She always knows what she's doing. And she always has the motivation to push herself even through failure. And that's what I really admire about her is her work ethic. She sometimes thinks she's not naturally as smart as other people, which is not true, but she works so hard so that she can be at that high level that other people are."

"What I admire so much about (Marisha) is her drive for everything," said Carolyn. "And she excels in everything that she does, even when she is tired and exhausted. She stays up late and continues working. And she really inspires me to just keep pushing through."

Friends. All-Americans. Marching on to bright futures.

The 15th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air live on NBC-TV on Saturday, January 3rd at noon Kansas City Time. Olathe North's music program has had great success getting outstanding musicians selected for the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. This is the fourth straight year that at least one member of the Screamin' Eagle Marching Band has been selected but it's the first time two have been honored in the same year. And that's also unusual nationally.

Fox 4 News is Working 4 You to spotlight outstanding young people and their positive accomplishments. In our weekly report called Reaching 4 Excellence we meet young achievers in subjects like academics, the arts, leadership, community service, volunteerism, career exploration, overcoming obstacles and heroism. Watch for Reaching 4 Excellence every Wednesday on Fox 4 News at 9 p.m. and every Thursday on Fox 4 News at 8 a.m. and noon.