Alumni Spotlight: Kent Wallis

What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights? 

I marched with the Blue Knights from 2010-2013.

What sections?

Trumpet (2010-2011), mellophone (2012), and aged out as one of the drum majors (2013).

Where did you attend high school?

Centennial High School in Frisco, Texas.

Education beyond high school?

After high school, I attended the University of Houston and earned a Bachelor of Music Education in the spring of 2016.

What is your current occupation?

I am currently the Assistant Director of Bands at Heritage High School in my hometown of Frisco, Texas.

Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?

The Blue Knights had a satellite audition camp in November of 2009 at Colleyville Heritage High School for the 2010 season. It wasn’t very far to drive, so I decided to go. I was invited to the December camp in Denver and offered a contract there. After my first summer, I was hooked. My favorite thing about the corps was the quality of instruction I received.

What is your favorite drum corps memory?

My favorite Blue Knights memory was the immense sense of pride and accomplishment I felt at the end of my first summer after the final horn snap down of the closer. I had completed one of the most difficult journeys of my life up to that point.

 

How have the Blue Knights impacted your life?

I have always felt that I was surrounded by some of the finest educators in the activity when I was a member, both on the musical and visual side of the instructional staff. My approach to music and visual education has been enormously impacted by my time with the Blue Knights.

What are some of the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?

Some of the things we’d talk about as a corps with Sully have stuck with me over the years. One of the concepts Marc Sylvester stressed to us was the importance of completing everything you do to the very best of your ability because it has “your name on it.” Your name and your brand are truly all you have in life. Get up and do the work required. What are you going to make your name worth, not just for your community, but for yourself?

 

What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?

Absolutely, a million times, 100% go for it. The quality of instruction and the attention to the needs of the members is outstanding. If you’re about performance, expression, and thoughtful show design, this is the place for you. Everyone always says it, but I believe it in my core to be true – the Blue Knights is a family.

 

How would you like to see other Blue Knight alumni get involved in the organization?

If you have the ability to, set up a monthly recurring donation. Even something as small as $10 every month can go a long way with an alumni base as large as the umbrella of Ascend Performing Arts.

∴ Want to be featured in a future Alumni Spotlight? Email us at Alumni@AscendPerformingArts.org

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Ken Adams

KEN ADAMS

Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold

MARK ARNOLD

Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor

SCOTT FACTOR

I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino

NEIL CORVINO

Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black

KATHY BLACK

Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin

BRYANT RANKIN

Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque

JANET ARCHIBEQUE

Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder

Rob BATCHELDER