PETERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A local high school student is one of only 125 in the country to be selected to be in this year’s U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.

There was a special ceremony for him at his school on Monday.

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Bowl game halftime shows are always a spectacle of sound, symmetry and school spirit, but this marching band is made up of the best high school band members supporting the U.S. Army.

And Richie MacKay, a senior at Peters Township High School, is now one of them.

MacKay plays xylophone, mallets and timpani, or the kettle drums.

With acceptance into the band, he’ll play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio next month. He gets a free trip to San Antonio for a week and music instruction from nationally-recognized teachers.

“I was actually really excited because a friend of mine made it two years back and told us how much fun it was,” said MacKay. “I wanted to see if I could get in, too.”

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That girl was also a student at Peters Township High School under the direction of Band Director Milt Barney, who nominated MacKay.

“When I first met Richard when he was in eighth grade, I noticed that he was already self-motivated, he was already learning his music and doing everything you were hoping a student would do,” said Barney. “[MacKay is] probably the most relaxed, easy going student we have.”

Students are chosen for their musical skill as well as their values – like loyalty and integrity – values of the Army.

So, of all the instruments in the marching band, how did MacKay get interested in the xylophone and drums?

“I was first attracted to it when saw Chip Davis perform with Mannheim Steamroller when I was about 5-years-old, and watching him play drums, I thought it was one of coolest things that I’d seen and wanted to be that when I grew up.”

Now, MacKay is on his way, performing on national TV in the new year.

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Kristine Sorensen