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Marching Bulldogs bring extra flair to Bethel football game

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Independence High School marching band is headed for the Cotton Bowl in January.

Before that, though, they’ve been wowing some crowds a bit north and east of Dallas.

At the invitation of Bethel College’s assistant professor of music Richard Tirk, who previously taught at Independence Community College, director Erin Shelton brought the band to the North Newton campus to play at halftime of a Bethel football game on Sept. 23.

It wasn’t just any football game for Bethel’s Threshers, but a meeting with arch-rival Tabor College from nearby Hillsboro. Bethel won 24-10 – and fans were impressed by the halftime entertainment, too.

Food Service director Randy Hare, a dedicated Thresher fan, said, “I just want to say a huge thank you [to Tirk] for bringing that great band from Independence to Bethel. It added to the fantastic atmosphere at the game.”

As he opened convocation the following Monday morning, Dale Schrag also expressed appreciation to Tirk for the band’s presence at the game, on behalf of other staff and faculty and the student body.

In addition to teaching at ICC, Tirk, a trumpet instructor, has worked with members of the IHS band for the past two summers at their band camp.

“I had been talking with [athletic director] Diane [Flickner] about ideas for half-time entertainment this season,” he said. “I said, ‘What about inviting area high school bands to come and play?’ I had the connection with Independence and knew the band was going to the Cotton Bowl, so I thought that would be a good option.”

The Threshers and their fans apparently agree with him.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at

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