(ADRIAN, MICHIGAN) – Over the weekend of May 18-20, 2018, The Cavaliers' students, staff, admin, and volunteers rallied together at Adrian College in Adrian, Mich., to focus on leadership training, communications, team building, and creating a healthy and positive environment.

The workshop-style training featured adult and student membership sessions lead by an experienced group of outside professionals, internal leadership, and alumni.


"Move-in weekend is all about establishing that foundation for success," said Chris Lugo, The Cavaliers' Executive Director. "It's the third year we've committed to changing the typical drum corps rehearsal schedule to deliberately focus on improving as individuals and as a team. This year, it was important for us to take the next step forward by adding the focus on creating a healthy and positive environment here at The Cavaliers."


The enhanced training is a direct result of the organization's ongoing enhancements regarding Student and Workplace Safety, which is a shared focus across the drum corps and marching arts activity.

In April, the organization highlighted even more about our plan to advance policy, facilitate training, and drive the ongoing discussion related to safety

"I'm proud of what we're doing at The Cavaliers to challenge the organization, our staff and administration, and our student members to to live and breath the mission with the active pursuit of excellence," said Lugo.

Drum Corps International (DCI) recently released the DCI Community Code of Conduct & Ethics Guidelines applying to all participating organizations in DCI programs and activities regarding the safety and well-being of performers, staff, and volunteers. 

The Cavaliers are in full support of the sweeping guidelines that establish clear definitions of many forms of misconduct, measures for individual and organizational accountability, and mandatory reporting guidelines.

"We are using the recent action from DCI as further fuel and inspiration for The Cavaliers to chart a clear path forward," Lugo added. "Moving beyond policy is tough, but it sure is humbling when you have so many passionate individuals and organizations willing to partner together to build a better experience for all involved."

Insights About Individuals and Teams Based on Observable Traits and Preferences

During the Business Chemistry and Radical Candor sessions, consultants Iman Shakeri and Paul Hailey identified the importance of understanding different personality traits and communication styles when building a team, creating goals, and establishing individual and shared commitments. Students and staffers explored delivering direct and constructive feedback as a key tool in developing our student performers, educators, and leaders. Lastly, the trainers challenged the student membership to develop the ongoing strategy to support and drive each other and the drum corps through the active pursuit of perfection.


Creating a Healthy and Positive Environment


Neal Harris led the Creating a Healthy and Positive Environment sessions, along with support from Sheri Garza-Pope, to train the student membership and staff on the importance of developing and nurturing a safe and welcoming experience. This included understanding our policies regarding reporting procedures; discrimination; non-fraternization; bullying; hazing; sexual harassment, abuse, and intimidation; retaliation; whistleblower; and how to recognize the signs of inappropriate behavior. Unconscious bias, proactive inclusion, and building that rigorous commitment to a healthy environment pulled the global concepts together to compliment the earlier sessions.

"What an amazing opportunity to be able to present to The Cavaliers, a group of young men and staff who are in the pursuit of perfection," Harris said.

"I am inspired that the leadership team understands the importance of, and takes proactive steps to build, a healthy and positive environment," said Garza-Pope. "These 150+ young Cavaliers are our future leaders, and I am confident they will be wildly successful beyond what we can even imagine!"


Former marching member and psychologist Dr. Jake Levy explored specific mental health issues in the Drum Corps Psychology session. Mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, ADHD, and more were discussed with student members and staff with an eye toward identifying the signs and asking for help. Dr. Levy discussed techniques for managing stress in high pressure situations, along with injury and illness prevention and treatment with the guidance of The Cavaliers' Medical Group, if necessary. 

Connecting the Dots...Leadership Development


Ryan Ling and Brandon Barrometti, Cavalier alumni and the 2002 drum major team, hosted several large group sessions with the student members and leadership over the weekend's workshop. The duo helped bring the context of Corps' historical developments and achievements as the current organization forges a healthy and positive path forward. Ling and Barrometti helped underscore the power of the team and of a unified purpose that all builds on The Cavaliers' ideals and standards. 

"It’s impossible to not be inspired by their energy and creative minds," said Ling. "It’s a great time to be a Cavalier."


The student membership closed out the weekend by jointly developing and signing a social contract focusing on seven specific goals that encapsulate their charge, both on and off the field of performance: Love Always; Commit to the Details; Assume Positive Intent; Stay Humble; Give 100%, 100% of the Time; Create a Culture of Feedback; and Always Bring Energy.

"I'm simply inspired by our staffers and our membership," said Joe Roach, Director of Programs and Director of The Cavaliers. "From this point forward, we'll use this training and commitment to each other as fuel for what's next as we continue the discussion."

"Our people truly understand that it's up to us to take positive steps forward as a drum corps, a nonprofit organization, and as a youth activity. Now, we look forward to sharing our progress with organizational peers, advancing our collective standards, and learning about each other's best practices. This is our way of honoring the past by taking steps forward."


The Cavaliers are honored to have the guidance of our Board of Directors, colleagues and staffers, volunteers, and our outside professionals lending their expertise and experience so we don't just live off our amazing Legacy, but that we live up to and enhance that Legacy. 


Thank you to Thor Schumacher, Iman Shakeri, Paul Hailey, Sheri Garza-Pope, Neal Harris, Dr. Jake Levy, Brandon Barrometti, and Ryan Ling for making this Leadership + Safety Workshop come to life.

We want to continue the conversation of safety and leadership in drum corps from here forward. We encourage other organizations to collaborate and share the actions and steps they are taking to ensure a strong and secure environment. We challenge YOU and those organizations to reach out to Chris Lugo with your feedback on how we can improve and build upon our leadership and safety training and ensure our future. Email with any feedback.



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.