Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Announces 2018 Scholarship Recipients

DENVER, CO – Ascend Performing Arts is proud to announce the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Scholarship recipients for the 2017-2018 indoor percussion season.

Keith Nygaard Memorial Scholarship

The Keith Nygaard Memorial Scholarship was established in 2016, in honor of the late Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble guitarist Keith Nygaard. The 2018 recipients of the Keith Nygaard Scholarship are Hanalei Lintag and Jamal Blassingale.

Hanalei Lintag is part of the front ensemble for her first year as a Blue Knight and studies Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her interest in music began when she started piano lessons at the age of five and became a passion after her participation in her high school’s percussion ensemble.

“Being a Blue Knight is the constant desire for improvement and discovery of one’s abilities with others who hold the same ambition,” said Hanalei. “You get to become part of a family that works towards the same goal while building incredible friendships and memories in the process.”

Jamal Blassingale is currently a student at the University of Northern Colorado pursuing a business degree. Music has always been a part of his life but he didn’t start drumming until sophomore year of high school. Shortly after moving to the front range, he discovered the Blue Knights and immediately knew that this was the life for him.

“Becoming a Blue Knight was a dream come true, but now I get to represent something that is a part of someone else’s dream,” said Jamal. “I realized it can be difficult as a musician from the western slope to easily represent yourself in the independent community but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Everything about the Blue Knights has taught me how to prevail through adversity and become a better version of myself everyday.”

Del & Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship

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

This year’s recipient of the Del & Dinah Owens Memorial Scholarship is Nikki Saiz. Nikki recently changed majors from classical percussion performance to jazz studies with an emphasis on drumset at the University of Denver. She is one of the first WGI and DCI female drumset players (BKPE and the Colts Drum & Bugle Corps). She has taught at Chatfield High School, Gateway High School, and Englewood High School as either a battery instructor or a front ensemble instructor. She has been playing the drums since age 10 and eventually played with a past RMPA concert world class high school-Bear Creek.

“Blue Knights has been a huge blessing in my life and has helped mold me into the performer, person, and educator I am today. The education within the Blue Knights is absolutely phenomenal; each weekend I walk away with brand new ideas and new ways of approaching any task. The Blue Knights family thrives on giving-the giving of time, effort, knowledge and passion. I didn’t know if I belonged in Blue Knights before auditions, but now I am so incredibly thankful and proud to be a Knight. I first saw Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble in 2013 and made it goal for myself to one day join the ensemble. It is now my second season as the rhythm section leader and I look forward to more seasons!”

Blue Knights Alumni Scholarship

The Blue Knights Alumni Scholarship is funded by alumni contributions to enable a  performer an opportunity to be a part of a Blue Knights ensemble. This is the first year the Blue Knights Alumni Association have provided a scholarship for a member of the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble.

Malia Oderik is a member of the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble and Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. She is currently a third year student at Colorado State University studying percussion. She has been playing piano since age four and percussion since age eleven. She began indoor percussion at age fifteen and this is her seventh season in the activity.

“I have been playing music for most of my life and somehow very little music making has touched me in the same way that my time playing in the Blue Knights has,” said Malia. “Building relationships with incredible people while learning from educators who challenge each of us to become better musicians and leaders makes me itch to return every weekend and grow more.”

Photo credit: Domani Barkley

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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