Most students at Leesville define a football game with spectacular passes, insane touchdowns, and impenetrable defense. Many, however, fail to notice another amazing aspect of the event, the marching band.
Overshadowed by their spotlighted counterpart, a majority of students are unaware of the commitment, hard work, and leadership displayed by the band—especially the senior members.
Mr. Albert, the band’s director and the President of the North Carolina Music Educators, believes in a predominately student-run band.
“My mentor, Mr. Callaway did it that way when I was in school, and I’ve done it ever since I started with the program.”
Unlike other school bands, each senior is assigned a leadership position.
There are five top officers: Courtney Tesh, drum major; Caitlin Fanning, captain; Ming Wang, student director; Ben Codispoti, drumline captain; and Katie Unger, colorguard captain. Also, there are numerous Personnel Officers (P.O.’s) who, on the field, oversee and advise their surrounding marchers.
“I don’t think we could have the band we have today without senior leaders,” said Mr. Albert. “They have the most experience, they have the most at stake, and I trust them to make the right decisions.”
Courtney Tesh, drum major, said “Leesville students recognize me as the girl in cowboy boots carrying a big conducting stick…fun fact: it’s called a mace. I run the rehearsals. I critique the music and marching. I fix what needs fixing.” Tesh said in an online interview.
Mr. Albert ensures that there is a balance of power though, “Nobody has a huge amount of responsibility, everybody shares the power. The roles shift depending on the band’s activities.”
Caitlin Fanning, captain, is like the “CEO” of the band, overseeing all the other leaders. “I am responsible for making sure that whatever they need to do gets done.” Fanning said in an online interview.
United in leadership, the senior officers have led the band to conclude the season with an impressive record. The band attended four competitions throughout the state, at Central Cabarrus, Northwest Guilford, Sanderson and Cary High School, fairing well at them all.
The competition at Northwest Guilford was on the same day of the Homecoming Dance, and the competition at Cary High on Oct. 31 forced band members to forfeit their Halloween festivities.
“Now that’s dedication!” Tesh said.
Preparation for fall competitions begin in the summer with band camp, and continue as the school year begins, each day before school, and during fourth block.
“On the day of a competition, we meet at the school and rehearse a few times. Then we load up the buses and get on the road. When we are within five minutes of our destination we enter focus time.” Fanning said.
After competitions, the top five officers meet on the field to accept awards and trophies decided by the judges.
Despite extreme commitment, band members consider their activity worthwhile.
“One of the best thing about Leesville’s marching band is we really rely on student leadership,” Tesh said. “It brings us together as performers and people. We become family.”