Meet Robert Clark – figure skater, tympani player, and volunteer in our drum corps program.  A man of multiple talents and we’re especially fond of the latter.

For the last three years you would usually find Robert helping at our Denver camps around lunchtime prepping food, serving, and washing dishes.  Or you may have seen him during one of the gatherings to clean and organize the food trailer and corps hall.  He doesn’t have anyone in the corps and just comes in for his love of the activity and support of our organization.  He’s currently taking on the chore of washing all the smelly corps uniforms from last season.  You’re a brave man Robert!  🙂


No offense Robert but you don’t strike us as a figure skater.  What’s the story there?  “I began as a figure skater in 1969 and performed in my first competition in Dallas Texas at the age of 9 (placing 11th out of 12 competitors in my age classification). I continued my skating practice and at the Southwest Regional competition at the Broadmoor in 1970, I was the first and only performer to be awarded with two medals in the competition (3rd place for individuals, and first place for the Bronze dance division).”

So you say you played Tympani and did Drum Corps?  “Yeah. I began my music career at age 12. I performed in junior high band, and then was one of three freshmen to be accepted into the A band at Grissom High School band. By my junior year I was selected as section leader as well as my senior year. In the fall of 1979 a friend who had joined Spirit of Atlanta mentioned that there was a spot for a tympani player. I tried out for the position and was selected. I performed with Spirit of Atlanta in 1979, 1980 and 1981. The Spirit of Atlanta 1980 show was shown in Theaters across the nation as one of the top 12 drum corps shows in the history of DCI. In 1981 I was the first solo timpanist for the Spirit of Atlanta. In 1980 Spirit of Atlanta tied for the high drums award (with the Bridgemen) and was .6 points from 1st place.”

Let’s back up a second.  No one in the corps?  Are you crazy? Why would you do such a thing?  Robert says: “Being both a fan of drum corps and participant since 1975, I have felt that Drum Corps is one of the best experiences for a growing individual. As a participant, many volunteers had a great impact on my experiences and growth as a result of their tireless giving and support often without thanks. After moving to Denver I thought that in the Spirit of those volunteers before me, perhaps I too could lend support and help to the Blue Knights in effort in some way to pay back those who helped and supported me in my younger years.”

Powdered Sugar Art! Robert made these for the kids at a rehearsal camp.

We love Robert’s volunteer spirit and other organizations have benefited from that too.  He volunteered for the East Coweta Band Boosters as Director/Producer, instructor, writer and design head for their Percussion Company.  East Coweta was awarded the National Festival Disney Champions for all marching units while he was director there.  He also volunteered with the Northgate Band Boosters, and the Corpsvets Drum and Bugle Corps.   He’s filled in wherever needed with these organizations and did everything from cooking to working concessions to building props.  We hope you never need to take advantage of one of his blood donations.  🙂

Does volunteering have any special meaning for you?  “As I mentioned before. My reason for volunteering is to try to return the help and support that those before me gave to me when I was involved as a participant in drum corps. My motto is helpfulness and compassion are a foundation for a successful organization.”

Robert has some other words of wisdom regarding volunteering:

  • “You only get out of life what you put into it. A “thank you” from one of the kids is a hug with words.”
  • “You never know how others’ lives are molded and shaped by your actions. The kindness you show today toward another will have long lasting effects on those whose lives you touch.”
  • “There is no way that when you see the result of your support by the performance of the kids, that your heart will not glow with happiness with the knowledge that you played a part in something great.”

Wise man Robert!  Very wise!

On Behalf of Ascend Performing Arts and the Blue KnightsThank you Robert!

Keith Huffman

∴ Come meet Robert and others like him.  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 to: Volunteer@AscendPerformingArts.org

Share This Post

BK hall of fame feature

Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps Hall of Fame – Accepting Nominations

Nominations for the first Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps Hall of Fame are now being accepted by the Hall of Fame Committee for the ...
Read More →

Bliss Coleman Appointed as Director of Development

Ascend Performing Arts, a leading organization in the performing arts community, is thrilled to announce the appointment of Bliss Coleman as its new Director of ...
Read More →
BKX24 staff David wp


Ascend Performing Arts is excited to announce that David Walker has joined the Blue Knights family as our new Ensemble Coordinator! David is a freelance ...
Read More →
Staff Announcement Visual Consultant

Rosie Miller Queen Joins Blue Knights

Ascend Performing Arts is excited to announce Rosie Miller Queen as Visual Consultant for the Blue Knights DBC! Rosie Miller Queen has been a seasoned ...
Read More →
Colorado Gives Day

Support Blue Knights through Colorado Gives Day

Support the Blue Knights through this annual statewide movement that celebrates philanthropy through online giving by making donations possible no matter where you live!
Read More →
Staff Announcement Color Guard Leadership


Ascend Performing Arts and the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps announce the artistic Color Guard Leadership team for 2024. James Gabonay, Color Guard Coordinator ...
Read More →
Scroll to Top

Want to Stay up to Date?

Sign up for our newsletter, the Knightly Newsbrief, to stay up to date with Ascend and all things Blue Knights. 

Email Address(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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