Alumni Spotlight: Susan Bellone

Name: Susan Bellone

What years did you March Blue Knights?
1983 and 1984.

What Section?
French Horn Bugle

Where did you attend High School?
Fort Collins High School

Education Beyond High School?
Associates of Arts Degree, Aims Community College, Greeley, CO Bachelors of Arts Degree, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX. University of Dallas, post-Bachelors work, Irving, TX

What is your current occupation?
Actor
Why did you choose to march Blue Knights?

I’m from Colorado, and I was at Drums Along the Rockies in Denver in 1983; after the Blue Knights performed, they announced they still needed members for their horn-line. I went to BK booth at intermission and signed up. Ever since my first parade when I was only eight years old, I had wanted to march. I saw the trumpets coming down the street and knew that was what I wanted to play. My older sisters played the violin, and the cello, so brass was out of the box for my family.

My parents were against me joining a Drum and Bugle Corps, they
didn’t want me traipsing all over the country. So I waited until I was an
adult and joined. DATR was on a Saturday night. We left on tour
Tuesday. The following year my parents watched me perform with the
Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps at DATR, and you have never seen
such prouder parents. They were very happy that I pursued my dreams, and went for what I really wanted.

What is your favorite memory of Drum Corps?
There are so many wonderful experiences it’s hard to narrow it down, however, I would have to say marching down Main Street USA, in Disneyland. I have always loved Walt Disney, and it was a dream come true not only to go but to actually perform at Disneyland!

How have the Blue Knights impacted your life?

I left Colorado in College and didn’t return here to live until 2010. The first thing I did, even before I returned was to sign up for all age Drum and Bugle Corps, High Country Brass, (now disbanded). I was home and that meant Drum and Bugle Corps.

What are some of the corps values/principles that have resonated with
your life?
I’m a brain tumor survivor, and I don’t know how I would have gotten through my illness had it not been for the Grace of God, and the principles that were instilled in me during my Drum Corps years. You
keep your focus on the outcome, not the current situation. You keep going forward. The Corps song, which was picked after I aged out, says it all. “I Go On.” We do go on. We don’t give up. We overcome obstacles and don’t look back. When I was sick, I didn’t focus on being sick, I focused on getting well. It’s a different perspective on facing challenges, one that is taught in the Blue Knights.

What advice would you tell someone trying out for the Blue Knights?
Do it! We are a lot of fun. You will love it.

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

I had this wonderful idea this year that we could all get
together for dinner and hang out, and while doing so, we could be
raising money for the Blue Knights. There are many restaurants that
donate to 501c3s when you host a restaurant fundraiser, and BK has
that status. I would like to find a volunteer in TX, Utah, and CA, who
would be willing to organize the dinners in their state. I’d also like to
see us go to Fathom Events together for the season premiere of the the
DCI kick off as well as Quarter Finals in August, which is also
held in theaters. I miss my Blue Knights friends and would like to see
them more than once a year at Brooklyn’s after DATR.

Did you perform in 2018 Alumni Corps, and what was your favorite
memory from our 60th anniversary of the corps?

Yes, I did. I was on the rack in the front ensemble. The most memorable
moment had to be the encore performance. I loved singing “Can’t Take
My Eyes Off of You,” with the entire corps, alumni, and current Blue
Knights. It was the most incredible experience. It was a once in a
lifetime moment when you felt all the love from the past 60 years
shared in signing.


∴ Want to be featured in a future Alumni Spotlight? Fill out the  Alumni Update form here or email: 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