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WASHINGTON, Washington County — Dozens of high school marching bands are in the city of Washington this weekend for a big competition.
After a general competition Friday, many of them battled it out with the Bands of America on Saturday. Westlake High School is one of the schools that moved on to the finals.
Westlake has a special band member in an important role this weekend, Jameson Jones, a senior in the life skills program at Westlake.
This is Jameson Jones' third and final year with the marching band, and Saturday night, he was the conductor. But for the students in the marching band, he's much more than that. He's their friend with a contagious love of music.
"He's just such a positive personality," said Randy Brady, the director of bands at Westlake High School.
Three years ago, Jameson Jones' mother approached Brady and asked if her son could join the marching band. Brady said it was a no-brainer.
Brady grew up with friends with special needs and loved the perspective and friendship they brought to his life. He wanted the same things for all of his students.
"It's been really awesome to watch the kids in the band interact with him and to be really protective of him in many cases," Brady explained.
Cindy Jones says her son "lives in the moment" and always talks about marching band.
"He's an honorary drum major," she said. "They've got him on a little podium right in front of the 50-year line, and he is in heaven."
It's not a charity case. Brady says the senior from the life skills class is talented.
"You should watch him conduct. We get into our ballad and he's like shaping the music," Brady said. "He's incredible."
The students competed against nearly three dozen other schools as part of the Bands of America program. They edged out the competition to move on to the finals.
Westlake High School competed on Saturday at 9:30 p.m. for the chance to win the regional award. You can check Westlake High School's Facebook page for more information.