Volunteer Spotlight: The Bertschs

Meet John and Jenny Bertsch of Northglenn, CO, super volunteers and parents of Jesse – a second year trumpet player for Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps.  John and Jenny became involved with the Blue Knights as soon as Jesse “got bit by the drum corps bug”.

How did they get involved here?  As Jenny notes – “Jesse was in the Mountain Range high school jazz band and the marching band where he was intrigued by a couple guys with cool blue jackets that indicated they were part of something special.  When Jesse was 15 he volunteered at All-Days for BK.  He watched and learned and said “that’s what I want to do!”  Although there were many who told him he was not good enough, he pushed to be better and then proved he had what it takes.  Jesse inspired us – which made it easy to support however we could.”

Pretty rad set of wheels!

They must have a musical background, right?  Not really.  While John did play trombone in high school pep band, neither John or Jenny have any background beyond that or in the marching arts.  We will label them “aficionados”.

How do they help?  John is an extremely talented prop builder and invaluable repair guy.  Last year he built new speaker carts for the pit and this year he came through with our mirror prop stands and a cart for storing/transporting the mirrors.  You’ll find Jenny getting in there to help with the props and repairs, too.  John has seen many late nights and short sleep to complete projects for us.  We owe him a pillow or something.

The speaker’s in the house that John built.

Jenny and John have been “go to” people for grilling equipment and services for the Memorial Day picnic the last two years and for the Percussion Clinic at Drum Along the Rockies this year. Jenny helps us with many food donations and led the way to get the 300 some ears of shucked corn we’ve enjoyed at the Memorial Day potluck the last two years.  There are also many equipment donations – including a commercial size grill that is now on tour – thanks to them.

When nearly $1,000 of power cables were stolen from our food trailer this winter, John was able to find a source for the heavyweight cabling and complete the fabrication.  He has some great connections and experience that help make some of these things possible, but they both have great big hearts and talents that makes so many things possible.

Do they have time for anything else?  It seems they do.  John and Jenny also work with the Mountain Range High School Marching Mustangs and with Northglenn Performance Theatre spending “free time” building props, serving meals, fitting uniforms and costumes, pushing pit, and planning celebration banquets.  In addition, they find time to be involved in Boy Scout Troop 98 where John is a Scoutmaster.  John and Jenny demonstrate that if you have the passion, you will find a way.

Need 36 Mirror Prop Stands? No Problem!

So why do they do this (or “what are they thinking”)? Let’s let Jenny explain.   “Time is short.  We have a limited time with our children before they are grown and living their own lives. We all want the best opportunities and experiences for our sons and daughters.  So when they show the commitment, we need to support them in ways that we are able.  That may look like volunteering with mealtime, taking photos, helping design and build props, souvenir sales, information booths, uniform fittings, washing uniforms, cleaning Corps hall, cheering them on from the stands, and many other ways to show support . Or it may be that you are able to just open your checkbook to show your support. Whatever it is, big or small, just do something to make that difference for your son or daughter to have a great experience. Because, when helping one part you affect the whole and everyone benefits.“  

To summarize, the reasons they volunteer are  “…to support a good cause.  For the satisfaction,.  To make a difference.  To do the right thing.  For the joy on the faces of those who benefit.  For being a little part of the big picture.  Or maybe –  just … “Because…“.

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

Keith Huffman

∴ Would you like to find your volunteer home with us?  Visit our Volunteer web page at https://ascendperformingarts.org/support/volunteer/ and send us an email to connect.  Your home can be here.  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