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Mount Olive Middle School Wins Second Rutgers “Battle of the Bands”

Members of Rutgers University's marching band perform on Rutgers Day at the College Avenue campus.
Members of Rutgers University’s marching band performs at the College Avenue campus during Rutgers Day on April 30. 
Rutgers University

As winners of the contest, the young students will play alongside the university’s marching band during the 2022 football season

Student musicians from Mount Olive Middle School won Rutgers University’s second “Battle of the Bands” competition and will visit Rutgers–New Brunswick to play the Scarlet Knights fight song and attend a Big Ten football game at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, N.J.

Rutgers invited middle school bands throughout New Jersey to submit a video performance of “The Bells Must Ring,” the university’s fight song. Contest officials reviewed video submissions, judging them for technical skill, a joy to resume playing together in person and pride in New Jersey’s flagship institution.

South River Middle School, Joseph R. Bolger Middle School, Pine Hill Middle School and Mount Olive Middle School in Budd Lake, N.J., were named finalists in the competition.

Pending COVID-19 pandemic health guidance, band members from Mount Olive Middle School will visit Rutgers–New Brunswick for an opportunity to play the university’s fight song alongside the Rutgers marching band during a Scarlet Knights football game at a date to be determined. Band members and their chaperones will receive tickets to the game. 

"The students and school community are thrilled for this opportunity,” said Melany McQueeny, Mount Olive School District’s department chair for music for grades 6-12. “I am incredibly proud of the work that our music students have been able to accomplish since the pandemic. Mount Olive Middle School winning the Rutgers Battle of the Bands is another way that showcases their hard work, perseverance and dedication." 

Courtney McAnuff, vice chancellor for enrollment management at Rutgers–New Brunswick, developed the initial vision of the contest as a way for younger students to connect with Rutgers at an early age. 

“We were very excited to resume the ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition this year,” McAnuff said. “This contest is a great opportunity for students to engage with Rutgers, the Big Ten conference, and get them excited about their journey after middle and high school.” 

Todd Nichols, director of university bands at Rutgers, said he is looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with younger musicians, as he led high school bands for 19 years before joining Rutgers in 2017.

“There is such a long history and tradition in Big Ten schools and Big Ten bands,” Nichols said. "We look forward to Mount Olive’s visit to campus and their performance alongside our university band.”