From a Colts Cadets' press release: The Colt Cadets are winding up a great 2004 season presenting the show, "Snoop Dog!" With the corps motto of "Learning, Having Fun, and Entertaining," we're learning more, entertaining better, and couldn't be having more fun getting the job done! A three-year plan, set by Cadet staff in 2002 has come to fruition: Build a launch pad, a rocket, and then to take off! This summer, the corps definitely has achieved its mission! With 73 members, the corps has more than quadrupled in membership from just three years ago. This large enrollment bumped the corps into Division II for the first time. Greg Orwoll, Colts' director, promised the Cadet staff, "If you do the right things for the right reasons, it will all work out." According to corps director Vicki Schaffer, "We have the best corps we've had, we've shifted divisions, we have doubled, tripled, quadrupled over the last three years." Check out a Colt Cadets photo gallery. And so it has! Retention has been at over 80 percent for the past three seasons and the average age is now 12.8 (equivalent to entering seventh grade). 71 members are directly from Dubuque and the immediate area, while the remaining few are from Juneau, Ala., and Denver (both have parents that met in the Colts). The focus has been on providing an amazing program and life-changing experience for kids -- competition is not a driving force of the group, nor is being a feeder corps. Yet, the skills, the competition, and the number that moves on to Colts is multiplying also. With the strongest brass line in many years, the kids are able to apply more musical concepts than blowing air in the horn. It is very exciting for the brass staff to hear everyone contributing to the sound -- from older vets to nine-year old rookies -- a major achievement for a corps that accepts beginners. The ability to work on musical line and horizontal movement of the music is a big step up for this young group. The percussion section is very large and very strong, aided by a more consistent approach to kids and their instruments. Members switch between the front ensemble and the battery throughout the show. Fewer instrument changes, and a show design that builds in the switches with little audience distraction has helped the kids be more comfortable on all of their instruments and has created a stronger package. The guard exhibits a wide range of abilities, utilized and challenged in a variety of ways by the balanced writing of Ryan Miller, guard caption head and program coordinator. The girls all perform very well on the field and work very hard on their techniques. Rifle, flag, and a variety of unique props are used throughout the show. The addition of amplification has allowed the Cadets to combine with another Colts youth program -- The Dubuque Colts Youth Choirs. Specific individuals from the choirs were invited to join the Cadets, and for the first time, both programs partner together on the field, resulting in over 100 Cadets on the field during local programs. The children's choir has added an entirely new dimension to the show. Different critics have cheered and jeered the singing, but the purpose is simple -- to include more kids and create synergy between two Colts programs. The vocals were deeply integrated into the program, and the program would not work with the removal of the amplification. The vocals are not an extra; the show could not be what it is without them. With one week to go, The Colt Cadets are having an incredible time! Audiences and judges have had good things to say about the program, but the staff is primarily excited by the level at which these students have learned to perform. More than one-third of the corps members on the field were beginners in March, when the corps begins rehearsals. David Plisek, a four-year member, claims the biggest difference this season is, "We all know how good we have the potential of being, and we have more fun knowing how much better we can still be. This season feels more honorable and more significant."