News & Politics

Northern Virginia High School Wins Metallica’s Marching Band Competition

Oakton High School's "Parade to Black" will receive $15,000 in equipment from the thrash-metal gods.

Screenshot from Oakton's winning entry.

Oakton High School’s marching band has won the small high school category in the metal band Metallica’s first-ever “For Whom the Bell Tolls” competition. Its winning entry, called “Parade to Black,” features a medley of Metallica tunes including “The Unforgiven,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and “Enter Sandman,” and the choreography and nice touches like a drum solo, liberal use of band members throwing devil horns, and wallets on chains seem to have put it over the top.

More than 450 colleges and high schools entered the competition, which Metallica singer and guitarist James Hetfield announced last spring in a video that really is worth watching. Auburn University won the Division 1 college category with its Metallica halftime show from last October. Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, won the large high school category. You can watch all the submissions here.

Oakton’s band will receive $15,000 in instruments and equipment from the metal group and its sponsors. “It’s just surreal to me that one of my all-time favorite bands is going to watch my band,” band director Jamie VanValkenburg told WTOP last year. Oakton’s win is another surprising local connection for Metallica, which bought a majority stake in Alexandria’s Furnace Record Pressing last year.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.