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Halie’s Rainbows

The inspiring story of the Northview Marching Knights coming together after one student’s death.

Inspiring story of Northview Marching Knights seeing rainbows after death

Brazil, Indiana is a close-knit community, and so is the local high school’s marching band, the Northview Marching Knights, eight-time state champions.

Every Thursday, after practice, the staff gathers for dinner at the home of Bob and Ruth Anne Medworth, director of the band and color guard, respectively. 

The Medworths live only a mile from the high school, so everyone shows up minutes after practice lets out.

On Thursday, October 8, just as he pulled into his driveway, Bob heard sirens. A police car sped past. “It scared me,” he remembers. “I never saw one go by the house so fast.”

Then he began getting text messages: “It’s Halie.”

Halie Hite was a freshman with long dark hair and a ready smile. “She was one of those kids who made it a joy to be a teacher,” says Bob , band director since 1977.

At one band practice, Medworth recalls, he instructed everyone to skip ahead in their set books (the band equivalent of play books) to a different formation. Halie, he says, actually skipped off toward her mark. It became their inside joke.

Tragically, Halie died in the hospital that night from injuries sustained in a car accident. Her many friends—students and teachers—gathered to mourn in disbelief at the high school until the wee hours of the morning.

With a competition the next day, Bob and the high school staff had to decide whether the band’s practices and performances should be canceled. The students all said they wanted to grieve together, and to practice for the big competition that Halie had worked so hard for.

“It was so hard,” says Bob, “You’d hear kids crying during practice.” But they insisted they wanted to do it for Halie.

When the day of the regional competition came, just nine days after her death, it was spitting rain. But then, a miraculous sight appeared in the sky that left the band and the stadium audience gasping.

A rainbow arched over the Northview Marching Knights as they were poised to begin. And then a second rainbow appeared. They remained bright throughout their show, and faded just as the band left the field.

“When I saw it I just started crying,” says Makenzie Brown, a good friend of Halie’s.  “I told a judge standing near me, ‘That’s my best friend.’ It made me feel like she was right there watching us.”

The band made it through the regional competition, and the rainbow made its members even more determined to win the state finals on October 31. First, they had to make it through semi-finals, the next Saturday. As Bob Medworth sat in the staff van the morning of the event, a parent hopped in.

“I have to show you something,” she said.

Many fans had taken pictures of the rainbow, and noticed something else that was amazing. The Northview Marching Knights show included 11 medieval-looking towers, painted weeks earlier to look like they were made from grey stones. The center tower clearly spelled out Halie’s last name “Hite.”

“When I saw that I had to go off by myself and have another crying session,” says Bob.

Soldiering on once again through their pain, the band won. 

The Northview Marching Knights also won the state finals last week, and made up T-shirts for the members and their proud families and fans. In the center? A rainbow.

Update: On September 10, 2010, Halie’s birthday, a rainbow appeared. There had been no rain. The previous evening, her mom had prayed for a sign from Halie on her birthday. Everyone saw that rainbow on their way to school.

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