PRATT — Skyline has another reason to strike up the pep band and it only took six months to happen.

The band has been named the Most Spirited Pep Band in the United States by Varsity Brands, the parent of BSN Sports and Varsity Spirit, and GoFundMe, the world's largest social fundraising platform. Varisty Brands does cheer camps and competitions across the U.S., including the state game day competition for Kansas State High School Athletic Association, said SHS band director Bob Lee.

The Skyline band was chosen from among nine finalists that came from across the country and some were much bigger schools than Skyline, a rural 1A school in Pratt County. Four of the nine finalists had student populations over 3,000 and bands that averaged 350 students, including one band that had 425, Lee said. Skyline Schools has an average of 391 students — 54 in middle school and 123 in high school. Middle school and high school students participate in the Skyline pep band, to the tune of 60 percent of the school population.

Criteria for nomination included letter from the school’s cheer coach, Kim Lee at Skyline, and a student essay about the band, provided by Skyline student Adison Hampton. A couple of photos were also submitted with the application.

In February, Skyline found out it was in the running as a finalist for Most Spirited Pep Band. On May 11, Varsity Brands held an awards ceremony at Walt Disney World.

Bob Lee admits that he was happy to be among the finalists, but he didn’t think Skyline stood much of a chance of winning because of the larger bands.

But in class on May 15, one of his middle school students said they had won and showed a screenshot from the Varsity Brands website listing all the winners.

The students were excited and thrilled, as was Lee.

“I was very surprised,” Lee said. “I’m excited and surprised that we came through that way.”

Winning the Spirit award includes a plaque or trophy, plus a $3,000 prize for the band program. Lee said he is consulting with Skyline Superintendent Becca Flowers about what to do with the money, but he said it might be used to purchase new band instruments.

Some of the money will be set aside for a celebration with the band students, he said.

The Skyline pep band plays at all home football and basketball games, as well as other such activities as homecoming, graduation and special events. They also travel to post-season games.

The band has 56 high school students and 42 middle school students, Lee said.