Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Announces 2017 Scholarship Recipients

DENVER, CO – Ascend Performing Arts is proud to announce the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Scholarship recipients for the 2016-2017 indoor percussion season.

Keith Nygaard Memorial Scholarship

The Keith Nygaard Memorial Scholarship was established in 2016, in honor of late Blue Knights Percussion Esemble Keith Nygaard. The first recipients of the Keith Nygaard Scholarship are Malia Oderik and Emily Soder.

Malia Oderik is a member of the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Front Ensemble and is a Percussion Performance major at Colorado State University. Malia has loved music since she was four years old, where she began playing piano, and began her career as a percussionist at eleven. Malia started her time with the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winter Guard International as a freshmen in high school and has continued ever since.

“I love being a part of the percussion ensemble because we have the chance to take everything we learn and do an immense amount with it,” said Malia. “I know that being a part of indoor percussion, from the beginning of my career, has vastly changed my life for the better and I hope to help bring the same effect to the lives of others. Blue Knights is helping shape my ability to do that every day, as I not only learn constantly while I’m there, but I also learn how to better teach while I’m there with the incredible staff we have.”

Emily Soder is in her first year with the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble and marching in the tenor section. Emily has loved music since she was little, and has performed as part of jazz, concert, and blue grass ensembles. Emily knows a wide variety of instruments, from the clarinet to the mandolin, and started playing quads in eigth grade at the Centaraus High School drumline, and hasn’t stopped since.

“Being a Blue Knight to me means a constant pursuit of greatness, and encouraging those around you so they can do the same,” said Emily. “It means having a family to both support and push you, then doing the same for them.”

Del Owens Memorial Scholarship

The Del Owens Memorial Scholarship was recently established to honor the passing of long-time Blue Knights supporter Del Owens. Del had been a member of the Blue Knights family for over 20 years, and volunteered at a large number of Blue Knights events.

Hallie Schield is a Music Education and Performance student at the University of Northern Colorado. Hallie has been playing percussion for almost ten years and plans to continue as a percussionist throughout her adult life. Hallie  began in winter percussion at Douglas High School and proceeded throughout her marching band and was eventually offered a contract with the Troopers Drums and Bugle Corps, where she is currently going into her fourth season with them.

“I like being a part of Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble because I like participating in the marching arts at a high level and to have an ensemble to do it with,” said Hallie. “I think that being a part of the Blue Knights, or any of the independent groups, gives you the opportunity to inspire younger musicians to go for what they want and to act as a role model for them so that they might learn more about music.”

Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship

The Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of long-time Blue Knights supporter Dinah Owens, and has supported 18 different members from both the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps and Percussion Ensemble.

Xan Cordova is the recipient of this seasons Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship, and is a member of the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Front Ensemnle. Xan is an English major at the University of Northern Colorado and has been playing percussion for nine years, with seven of those in the marching arts.

“Being a Blue Knight to me is about the pursuit and desire of excellence, whether that be in rehearsals or in my life at college or at home,” said Xan. “For me it is also about upholding the legacy of those that have come before me and continuing it as well. Blue Knights helps me do that by being relentless in never settling on doing the best but always working to make things better.”

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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