Marching Lions play during Ravens’ game

BALTIMORE – “You never know how far your children will carry you,” Jerry Hayes said.

Mr. Hayes was speaking on Dec. 23, on the sidewalk outside of Maple Elementary School, as the Marching Lions loaded their gear and boarded buses bound for M&T Bank Stadium. The fourth- and fifth-grade musicians and flag squad were on their way to perform during the Baltimore Ravens’ game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The children soared to national attention this fall, with an Oct. 11 appearance on the ABC television program “Good Morning America”. That show followed regional news media coverage of the band, which has played at local events and thrilled audiences with their skill.

The band is led by Director Ray Washington, himself a graduate of Maple Elementary, where he played in the band. He also played at Mace’s Lane Middle School and Cambridge-South Dorchester High School.

His time at county schools was capped by his experience in the marching band at his alma mater, Morgan State University. Mr. Washington brings that showmanship to his 10- and 11-year-old performers, who have soaked up the knowledge and continue to impress audiences.

“They are doing Morgan cadences,” Mr. Washington said. While he noted that he has simplified some of the routines, he also sees the youngsters picking up the lessons more quickly as they gain experience and confidence.

All of that was on display Saturday, as the Marching Lions, decked out in their green uniforms, followed the Ravens’ band from Orioles’ Stadium to nearby M&T Bank Stadium, playing all the way.

“They were cheered by many,” a statement from the school said. “There was lots of support and encouragement from the crowds, and high fives from many.”

Maple Elementary School’s principal is Michelle Prosser. For information on the school, visit dcps.k12.md.us. To learn more about the band, and to view videos of their performances, visit their Facebook page, Maple Elementary “Marching Lions”.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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