During Drum Corps International's Annual Meeting held in early January 2018, student and performer safety was a prominent topic at the discussion table, with more specific attention paid to preventing sexual harassment and abuse, improving training and reporting mechanisms, and addressing the safe and positive environments in which our students, staff, and volunteers operate.

As a direct result, The Cavaliers’ Board of Directors sent a letter to the Board of Directors of Drum Corps International acknowledging the inclusion of student and performer health, safety, and well-being within DCI’s strategic plan, while also encouraging and asking for further emphasis on the association’s policies, compliance, and training related to safeguarding our students and our people.

“As a youth-focused nonprofit, student health, safety, and well-being is our number one priority,” said Chris Lugo, The Cavaliers’ Executive Director. “We also have a responsibility to ensure our incredible educators, administrators, and volunteers have a supportive and safe environment in which to serve our organization’s mission.”

The Cavaliers review and update our policies and procedures to align with best practices across the industry annually, but a keen focus on student and workplace safety goes well beyond policy.

“Articulating the details of our policies and procedures is among the very first steps when it comes to addressing sexual harassment and abuse, bullying, drug possession and use, hazing, and other key topics contained in our Student and Staff/Volunteer Handbooks,” Lugo added. "Background checks, compliance, regular training sessions, and a continuous internal dialog are all necessary to elevate the importance of safety, to raise our individual awareness, and to always encourage doing the right thing.”

To support our duty to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of all those involved with our organization The Cavaliers have recently updated or introduced a number of policies including our whistleblower policy, staff and student handbooks, background check policy, and training requirements described below. 


Beginning in 2017, The Cavaliers introduced a formal whistleblower policy and reporting tool available on Cavaliers.org, as reporting is an essential element when addressing student and workplace safety.

While we aim for all those who come in contact with The Cavaliers to feel unhindered and unthreatened in raising concerns, we recognize that it is essential to provide a confidential and anonymous option to submit such concerns to ensure we have the full opportunity to investigate and address any potential violations.


The Staff and Student handbooks are revised at least once each year to ensure that the policies contained within maintain relevance with the current state of our environment. Going into the 2018 season, we have introduced updates to emphasize the importance of an individual’s duty to report any violations of our policies and procedures.

In addition, The Cavaliers updated our membership policy to clarify that exceptions to our membership policy may be considered on a case by case basis. Any individuals who have a question about our policy are encouraged to reach out to the ensemble director and executive director.


Beginning in 2017, The Cavaliers required all instructional and administrative staff to undergo a background check. Going into 2018, this policy will also be applied to all individuals spending more than a single day with any of our performing units, including volunteers.


Training and discussion surrounding these sometimes difficult topics are key components of the continued focus on student and workplace environment.

"We understand and embrace that providing a safe, productive place for our students and our people is an ongoing, active pursuit that requires us to evolve and always look for areas of improvement.”

Organization-wide training for all students, staff, and volunteers is scheduled for multiple points throughout the year, including both virtual and in-person workshops that will be required for participation with The Cavaliers. The first of the in-person workshops will be held during the May 18 orientation weekend for The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps.


Cavalier Alumni and Family Members are encouraged to join the drum corps’ annual Alumni and Parent Symposium on Saturday, April 28 in Hampshire, Ill., to learn more about what The Cavaliers are doing to address these topics and how to support the effort. More information about this town-hall style event will be published soon.

It is important that both those inside and outside the organization know the safety of our students and our people is our top priority, and that the charge of the organization’s leadership is to ensure all students, staff, and volunteers are treated with dignity, fairness, and respect at all times.

For any questions or comments related to student or workplace safety, our policies, or our training, please contact executive director Chris Lugo at Chris.Lugo@cavaliers.org.


Founded in 1948 from Boy Scout Troop 111, The Cavaliers are one of the most successful drum and bugle corps in history, winning 20 national championships, including seven Drum Corps International world championships since 1992.

The Cavaliers provide a variety of educational and performance programs for young people, including GearWORKS, Cavaliers Indoor Percussion, Chromium Winds, Crystal Lake Thunder, and Midwest Connection. The organization delivers life-changing experiences that go beyond music and performing arts to build personal accountability, excellence, teamwork, and camaraderie.

The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization sponsored by The Village of Rosemont, Illinois.