Marching band students chose to make a huge commitment when they decided to sign up for band as opposed to other, less demanding electives. Most students choose to take electives that balance out their schedule, and allow them to focus on their core classes. Leesville’s band, however, dedicates multiple hours of social time outside of school to improving skills and practicing for group performances.
At Leesville, band is a year-long course, not only taking up two out of eight classes per year, but also limiting the additional elective courses that are available for students to take. Yearbook, Newspaper, Tech Crew and Pepi are only offered during 4th period, at the same time band is offered each semester.
Nina Thigpen, junior, said, “Band is a massive commitment. We have to be at school really early every day, and we miss out on being in the Loonies section during home football games. Competitions last all day on Saturdays, and we have band camp over the summer.”
Marching band students must arrive to school thirty minutes early each day for early morning rehearsals, and return to the band room during lunch for “remedial marching” if the teacher deems it necessary.
Before the school year even begins, the LRHS band begins practicing. In fact, summer rehearsals begin on the very first day of summer. In mid-July, the marching band begins preparation for band camp, which is usually the last week in July. After a week of band camp, summer rehearsals begin in preparation for home football game performances.
The band sits in a separate section during home football games, and then must return to the band room after games to discuss their performance. While this may not seem like a big deal to many students, dedicated Leesville Loonies feel as though they miss out on a major part of attending Leesville. Many band students attempt to make up for missing the home games by attending the away games, but most agree it is not the same.
Compared to other electives offered at Leesville, the dedication and perseverance required to be successful in band is evident. Robert Granecki, junior, said, “In band, not only do you have to work in the class, unlike a lot of other electives I’ve taken, but you have to do a lot of work outside of class. You have to be a lot more focused.”
When Kyle Gorman, sophomore, was asked to recount his experience in a less demanding elective, Computer Applications I, he agreed with Granecki regarding the effort necessary for success in a band class versus an average elective . Gorman said, “Computer Apps is a pretty easy class. I don’t do much outside of class, and we have some free time during class.”
Few students realize the effort and commitment necessary in order to be successful in a class like marching band, and even fewer consider the hours of practice required for one halftime show performance. After being asked if she realized the effort that goes into marching band, Montana Arnold, senior, said, “I had no idea how much time the band spends practicing during and outside of class. I guess I realized that learning an instrument and being good at it takes work, but performing well as a group takes even more work and coordination.”
“I’ve always tried to take the ‘easy A’ [elective] classes throughout high school, just so I could do less work and not have to spend time doing any extra work. I really look up to other kids who are passionate about something, and dedicate so much of their free time into something to benefit the school as a whole,” said Arnold.