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Re: Marching clarification
Starting kids in 5th grade is by far the exception rather than the norm for most programs - but in that case, yes, marching 7th and 8th graders could work!
In my personal case, I also started playing in 5th grade - but I don't think I would've been successful marching as a 7th grader. But you need to do what you must to make your program succeed.