Volunteer Spotlight: Nicky Kroge

nickyMeet Nicky Kroge of Boulder, CO.   Her two boys Jamey (Baritone) and Caley (Contra) first made the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps in 2012.  Jamey aged out at the conclusion of the 2015 season.  Caley has one more year of eligibility.

A little background on Nicky.  Her husband is the founder and artistic director of Ars Nova Singers, a local semi-pro choir.  Throughout its 30-year existence, Nicky volunteered in a variety of ways, including ticket sales, catering events, and whatever else needed to be done.  She’s also been an active volunteer with the Fairview HS marching band: mainly taking care of uniforms throughout the boys’ time in high school, and again now that her youngest, Chloe, has joined the ranks.  Nicky works full time as a special ed and literacy teacher in Boulder, which entails lots of committee work along with the “regular” demands of a teaching job. And, she’s also in the church choir.  During her younger years she “was a choir and theater kid.”  Her boys brought her into “the strange world of band.”

Where might you have seen Nicky volunteering? If you attended any of our Denver area camps between November and April last year, you likely had the pleasure of meeting Nicky.  Nicky provided the planning, organization, and execution of the feeding frenzies during that time.  If you and/or your son and/or your daughter got fed during a Denver camp – you can thank her.  Did you get a special vegan/vegetarian option?  You can thank her.  Did you get a lactose free option?  You can thank her.  Were you put to work chopping tomatoes or washing dishes?  You can thank her.  🙂   (We thank you too though!)

During May “all days” you may have seen Nicky helping Chef Doug in the food trailer, or perhaps you met her while altering dozens of uniforms prior to tour.  At the 2015 Drums Along the Rockies, the 30 some event staff, and 35 member color guard squad for the opening ceremonies, and 174 Percussion Clinic participants enjoyed a meal organized and planned by Nicky.11698620_10153161481048026_9199387717325970982_n

Nicky’s advice to anyone not sure if they could/should volunteer is “Just do it!   She also adds “BK volunteers are the best!  They come from many directions, many walks of life, and all are interesting and fun.  Of course, the pool of volunteers also revolves as many of their kids step in and out of the organization.  So there’s always room for you to dive in and help in some way.  Keith makes it super easy to sign up via Sign-up Genius, and your help is always appreciated.”

What does volunteering mean to Nicky?  “It’s so true that BK is “powered by volunteers.”  In order for my kids to be involved in this activity, I know it’s important that any time I can spare a few hours, I should pitch in.  It’s also great fun getting to know the other volunteers, the members and staff.  And it’s wonderful to watch how the whole show unfolds from behind the scenes, from those first auditions to the final act in Indy.”

To close this article off let’s just say it – if you haven’t picked up on it yet – Nicky is extremely active and caring and probably one of the most flexible, unassuming, and laid back people you will ever meet.  A true gift to us!

On Behalf of Ascend Performing Arts and the Blue Knights – Thank you Nicky!

Keith Huffman


∴ Come meet Nicky and others like her.  We would love for you to volunteer with us and, if you want one, we can help you find your niche with us.  Visit our Volunteer web page at https://ascendperformingarts.org/support/volunteer/ and send us an email to connect. Make our youth your extended family!

∴ Do you have a nomination for a future Spotlight article?  Please email them in.

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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