Alumni Spotlight: Marie Marchand

Blue Knight Marie Marchland


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

I marched in the colorguard 1989-1991.

  1. Where did you attend high school?

Pomona High School in Arvada, CO.


  1. Education beyond high school?

I am a graduate of Naropa University and The Iliff School of Theology where I studied psychology, religion, and peacemaking.


  1. What is your current occupation?

I currently work at Central Washington University, but I’ve worked as a nonprofit executive director for most of my career. I’m also a poet. My book Gifts to the Attentive is being published in 2022.


  1. Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?

I was in the Pomona High School winter guard and many of my friends marched BK, so I joined.


  1. What is your favorite drum corps memory?

At a regional in 1991, there was a fireworks show over us during retreat. The fireworks were raining down on us! It was magical! Also, the first time the Blue Knights made finals at DCI was 1991. At retreat, we spread out and took up half the field then performed our ballad Aspen. More than individual moments, however, my main memories from the Blue Knights are of beauty and belonging. I am so grateful for my time in the corps!


  1. How have the Blue Knights impacted your life? What are some the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?

Through music, movement, and performance, I experienced transcendence. It was all so deep and spiritual. It led me to become a poet at age 17. The core principles I carried from my time in the Blue Knights were belief in myself and persistence. Each of us discovered self-empowerment in the community, which is a beautiful thing. The persistence is epitomized in the corps song, I Go On. No matter how much the thunder rumbles, whatever life throws at me, I go on. Happily, I met my husband Steve Van Ausdall in BK, but we lived A LOT of life separately before reconnecting in 2017 and marrying a year later. Our good friends Dan and Megan met in BK, too, and they’ve been married for 26 years!



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

Strive for authenticity and let your true self show. George Zingali told us to perform as if we were carrying signs that read, “Honest.” That’s how I try to live my life. I’m turning a half-century on March 14th, so it’s a good time for self-reflection.


In addition, see this poem by Marie, inspired by the Blue Knights!

for more of Marie’s poetry, you can visit here:



by Marie Marchand


I’ve never written a poem about something

that didn’t save my life.

Beauty is always present during

times I persisted through strife.

Words intuit and fashion the future.

I use them to honor and invite

what I perceive so I can move

past the losses I grieve.


Poetry coaxes honesty from our inside place

where we think we lack grace,

but we’re wrong–

there lives our sacred song.


A legend once taught me honesty.

On the field, we held signs above our head–

teenagers learning intensity and pride

our true selves we could no longer hide.


Music and color swirled around me.

I danced barefoot on the grass

under the sun in synchronized unity.


We practiced and practiced

and barely slept; we

travelled to destinations

none of us remembered.

We didn’t eat enough,

but we all loved one another.


It was a higher principality,

that one second,

different from reality.

A blue cathedral where

everyone was equal

because we all won or lost

together, at any cost.


With tears and frustration,

our souls bared,

triumphs we shared–

our devastation the foundation

for the future.

A wound to mend

in order to ascend.


Music is a language.

A song, a poem.

Like words, it saves lives,

as does community.


How can I say I don’t think

about those times, about that

brilliant opportunity?

Yes. I remember everything.


I learned an astounding, useful wonder.

I learned to go on–and to stay.


No matter my struggles

No matter what in my life crumbles,

I go on to celebrate another day.



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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


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


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


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


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


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


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