A girl directs a marching band
Kayla Selan, Ashland High marching band's head field commander, directs the band in a "Back to the Future" themed show on Aug. 18, 2023.

ASHLAND — Kayla Selan transformed into Marty McFly, riding up to direct the Ashland High School band in a DeLorean for its halftime show on Friday night. 

This year Selan, a 17-year-old senior at Ashland High School, serves as the marching band’s field commander. That position means she conducts the band for its performances on the field. 

“I love it,” Selan said. “I want to go into conducting as a career. I love seeing it all come together and I love helping my peers learn all the drills.” 

A DeLorean came to Ashland High School for its first performance of its 100-year anniversary on Aug. 18, 2023. The halftime show was “Back to the Future” themed, and the DeLorean came from Ohio Time Machine Rental based out of Columbus.

The DeLorean lit up with orange lights as Selan prepared to direct the band in its first performance of the year on Friday night. 

Selan’s senior year aligns with the band’s centennial anniversary. To celebrate, Martin Kral, the high school’s band director, has fun events lined up for the different bands for the entire year. 

Friday night’s halftime show was the first in the lineup.

Celebrating the centennial

Kral discovered the 100-year anniversary of Ashland’s band was on the horizon a couple years ago. 

With renovations taking place at the high school, Kral walked in one summer and found a stack of old yearbooks. He went through them and discovered the yearbook that chronicled the start of the high school band. 

Kral said nine students played in the band, according to Ashland High School’s 2023-2024 yearbook. 

That’s when it hit him: the band’s 100-year anniversary would happen in just two or three years. 

“That’ll be our excuse to bring people back,” Kral said. 

So, Kral decided he’d promote the band program any way he could during the 2023-2024 school year. That includes performing themed shows, bringing back alumni for special performances and more. 

The marching band, jazz band and concert band will all have special events taking place throughout the year to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the program, Kral said.

Fittingly, Kral said this year is the first since pre-COVID that the marching band has 100 students in it — 102, to be exact.

“Back to the Future” and back to the field

Those special performances kicked off at Ashland High School’s first football game of the season. Kral said the band practiced a “Back to the Future” themed show all summer. The show included a special arrangement of the song “The Power of Love.” That song, by Huey Lewis, was on the “Back to the Future” soundtrack in 1985.

Martin Kral (left), Ashland High’s band director, and Kayla Selan, the head field commander, smile with the DeLorean before the band’s performance on Aug. 18, 2023. They dressed as the main characters from “Back to the Future” to be on theme.

Kral dressed as Dr. Emmett Brown and Selan donned a Marty McFly costume. 

Kral and Tiffany Sanders, the program coordinator for Ashland Visual and Performing Arts, worked together to bring in a DeLorean from Ohio Time Machine Rental, based out of Columbus. Sanders has also been involved with helping to bring back alumni for the band’s homecoming performance, which will happen Sept. 22. 

Selan hopped into the car as it drove down the track in front of the stadium. She then jumped out, climbed the stairs onto a raised platform and directed the band in its renditions of songs from the film. 

“I love ‘Back to the Future,’” Selan said. “I actually got all the field commanders together and we watched the first movie. I’m just so excited and so lucky to get to do this.” 

Selan wasn’t the only student excited about the themed performance.

Sammy Fullmer, another incoming senior at Ashland High School and baritone player in the marching band, said she saw the “Back to the Future” musical on Broadway. Fullmer thought the music was fun to learn.

“I love the DeLorean,” Fullmer said.

Meaningful moments

Lydia Wells (left) and Sammy Fullmer pose for a photo before the first marching band performance of the year on Aug. 18, 2023. Wells and Fullmer are seniors this year.

Naturally, Fullmer said she’s looking forward to her senior year. She’s been in the band since her freshman year. She said it still hadn’t hit her that Friday night was her last first performance. 

Lydia Wells, a 17-year-old clarinet player, agreed with Fullmer. 

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she said. 

Wells added that she’s excited for the opportunities that come with being part of the band during its 100th year. 

She’s looking forward to performing with alumni at Homecoming and all the moments she’ll get to spend with friends throughout the year. 

“Marching band really helps you grow as a person,” Wells said. “You make lifelong friends.” 

Wells hopes to keep music in her life when she goes to college. She’s planning to study at Ashland University. She wants to minor in music or major in music education. 

Selan also plans to keep music in her life. She’ll major in music therapy after her senior year. She attributed her love for music to her time in Ashland High’s band. 

“Marching band really is just like a big family,” Selan said. “It’s a community you never forget filled with people who love and care about you. Nobody ever regrets doing marching band.”

The marching band’s next centennial celebration performance will take place at Ashland High’s Homecoming game on Sept. 22. It has a goal of bringing back 100 alumni for 100 years. According to Sanders, around 70 have signed up so far. 

Alumni interested in signing up for the 100-year homecoming performance can do so here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSey7rhBQQHLTJr01t6gkkz8CDsujTsCKyOcgqPvur9UIY70Sw/viewform?fbclid=IwAR1aI-rcbGK__2dMpmW8Bos2IZL2i6U1ms-17DHX72rov9HlaP7sbTtQ-Rw.

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Ashland Source's Report for America corps member. She covers education and workforce development, among other things, for Ashland Source. Thomas comes to Ashland Source from Montana, where she graduated...