Grafton H.S. marching band member preparing to perform in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
It's usually quiet in the small city of Grafton West Virginia.
Except in the band room at Grafton High School.
That's where you'll find often find junior percussionist Landon Tucker, practicing everything from the tenors he plays in marching band, to solo excerpts on the marimba.
The room is his refuge from the outside world.
"I can just play music and focus on that. It puts me in a happy place," Tucker said.
The hours he spends practicing are paying off. Next week, he'll represent his city, school and state on the national stage.
Tucker was selected to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the featured Big American Marching Band.
It's a group of roughly 200 students from all 50 states and Washington D.C.
"I put so much time and energy into the audition," Tucker said. "To see it all pay off and get that email, I was overjoyed. There were so many emotions running through me."
Christopher Rucker is his band director.
"As I sit here, it's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it," Rucker said. "I'm so proud of him, the work that he puts in and the leadership he has."
In his 21 years teaching, he's had students go on to be music majors, join the WVU marching band, and military bands.
"But nothing on the stage as big as this, where the whole United States will be watching on Thanksgiving morning," Rucker said.
Tucker said the honor is hard to put into words.
"It's such an honor to be able to not just represent myself or the school, but also the state," Tucker said. "There's going to be people from all across the United States. It's going to be an awesome opportunity to represent the state of West Virginia and show people how great people from West Virginia really are."
Tucker's audition process began roughly a year ago. He'll play cymbals in the parade.
He leaves Saturday morning for New York City where he'll spend a few days rehearsing and preparing for one of the biggest parades in the world.
His band director hopes Tucker's once-in-a-lifetime experience serves as an inspiration to other students as a story of a small-town kid making it on the big stage.
"You don't have to come from a big town to be able to experience the things Landon is going to experience," Rucker said.