With the start of the high school football season just around the corner, bands are practicing to perfect their music and halftime shows.
While some county schools have had bands for many years, 2018 will mark a historic event for Appalachian High School and Southeastern High School.
Appalachian’s band, in only its second year of existence, will perform during halftime, while Southeastern’s band will travel with the football team and play in the stands. The bands will make their debut on Thursday, Aug. 23, when Appalachian and Southeastern square off in the season opener at Appalachian.
As the excitement builds for the band members, they continue to practice playing instruments and marching. Both bands held band camp in the sweltering heat in late July and early August.
Southeastern’s band director Michelle Searcy said, “The students are very excited. They have not had this opportunity in the past. We are excited to show what we have accomplished this year and last year. We are taking small steps. We are trying to build a program that will sustain itself with the foundation we have laid for the students and community.”
Beginning with a drum line three years ago, Southeastern began laying the foundation Searcy mentioned earlier. Brett Westbrook began the drum line during the 2016/2017 school year, and horns were added to the band last year.
The school now has a beginning band and an intermediate band. The 18-member intermediate band will be performing at football games and other events throughout the school year.
Appalachian’s first ever drum major Briar Fowler is extremely proud of the accomplishments the 24-member band has made thus far. He said, “They are doing fantastic. They are amazing.”
Fowler said that since the band’s inception he has witnessed its members become like family. He admits there are squabbles at times, but they work through things and carry on.
Band member Dierks Cantaberry joined the band last year after relocating to the Appalachian High School district. He said he was in another band, and Appalachian is much better.
Several band members mentioned that learning formations was initially hard, but through hard work and endurance it is getting easier. Now they want to master playing and marching at the same time.
Appalachian’s band director Crist Sperling noted the biggest challenge thus far has been acquiring all the necessary equipment. The band will perform at every football game this year, and will also participate in the Hayden Marching Band Contest on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Sperling said, “I am very pleased with the progress my students have made during camp. They have done a great job in learning how to march and prepare for a halftime show. It is very exciting for our school and community to field a marching band in only our second year of instruction.”
Regardless of what school you support, it is exciting to see these two schools “strike up the band.”