After retreat at Drum Corps International World Championships, age-out members, those who can never again participate in such an incredible experience, leave reminders on the field that sum up their feelings after marching in their last Jr. drum corps competition. These are items such as shoes with worn out soles, beaten and battered sticks, ripped gloves, notes, jewelry, anything that caries with it the memories of what drum corps meant to one individual. At the same time, these are symbols of what drum corps means to all of us.At the close of Wednesday's Division II and III Championships, one member left a shoebox full of memories with a note attached. Here is what she wrote:To whoever finds this box:You are probably wondering why there is a box filled with random items such as gloves, dance shoes, a candle, a four-leaf clover, a drill book, and a chunk of cement (to name a few). As I am sure you know, DCI finals are over and that marks the end to the summer for many. However, for myself, it marks the end of a journey that took place over eleven years.In addition to the eleven years I put into drum corps, there have been several items that have been key in my experience. For instance, my gloves, which happen to be my third pair this summer, represent the hard work and wear & tear placed on my hands. Also, my dance shoes, which probably have the toughest job of all – Lord knows we're on our feet enough! My drill book – an item that is attached at the hip to me all summer and probably the most important item to have at practice, represents my personal location through the entire show. The four-leaf clover is something I found during rehearsal in Madison – I carried it on my person during my last finals. The candle is an item from Drum Corps Midwest that one of our snare drummers, "Vegas", lit for me during a corps ritual. He said he respected me and looked up to me because I was a fossil in the organization and an inspiration. That meant a lot to me and makes me feel confident in the future of the Blue Stars.Last, but not least, the chunk of cement. That represents a piece of the south side of LaCrosse's Oktoberfest Grounds, which was the area that I spent the last eleven years practicing and pouring all of my sweat, blood, and tears. I'm not sure how much longer the fest grounds in LaCrosse will be available for the Blue Stars to use, but for me, it was a like a second home.In conclusion, I have experienced so many wonderful things over the years and met so many wonderful people who are among my best friends. I had been to so many places by the age of fourteen, my parents became jealous of my adventures. And to this day, people I marched with ten years ago are some of my best friends with whom I consort on a daily basis. However, the nice thing about the Blue Stars family is that, no matter how many years fall between visits and reunions, the special "family" bond is still there! I will never forget the organization or the experience and only hope that more young people continue to share in the experience of drum and bugle corps; even if it is not the Blue Stars."Finis Cornat Opus" (The End Crowns the Work)Thank you,Jennie Deal1990-1999, 2002 Colorguard Age-OutThe Blue Stars