WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (4/10/13) - The 2012-2013 school year has been one of rebuilding for the Webster County High School band and first-year director Nathan Clark. A lot of obstacles have stood in the way, but the determined Trojans have overcome them.
Now they look to transition their recent success into long term improvements with a promise of $10,450 from the school board.
“This fall we met several obstacles,” Clark told the board on Monday night. “One was getting enough kids to represent the school.”
When the marching band first met in August, they had only a dozen students show up. By the end of the season they had not only grown in size, they had begun to get results on the field.
They won “Best in Class” and “Best Color Guard” at a competition in Henderson County, and went on to the AA West Quarterfinals, missing out on advancing to the semi-finals by one position.
Kari Alsbrooks, Kullen Floyd, Haley Corbin, Talon Roy and Hunter Roy were all selected to perform with the University of Louisville Honor Band in January, while Haley Corbin, Kullen Floyd and Dylan Stone out performed musicians in their grade levels from Daviess, Henderson, McLean, Hopkins and Webster Counties to make the All-District Band.
Most recently the band participated in the KMEA concert band music festival in Madisonville, earning distinguished marks and topping bands from most of the surrounding counties.
Clark pinpointed participation in the middle school band as one of the biggest hurdles that the program has had to overcome, and will have to overcome in the future because of a lack of instruments.
Traditionally parents have provided most instruments for students, but Clark said that the way things are today, parents just haven’t been able to do so. That left the band having to find whatever instruments they could. Through an instrument drive in the fall and by offering a tax incentive earlier this year, they’ve managed to add 12 instruments. That’s 12 instruments that have to be divided up between four middle school bands and the high school band.
In some cases students only option was to play an instrument they didn’t like, because the one they wanted to play was not available.
“We had 85 sixth graders show up (at the start of the year),” Clark said. “Of that we initially managed to keep around 40. Now we’re down to 36. In the month of August we had 80 kids who wanted to be in the band. As a result of not having instruments that number was more than cut in half.”
Clark explained that in a normal situation, you can expect a certain number of students to drop out of band. Using the current numbers, he said that if you have 36 in the sixth grade, you can expect that to be at 28 by seventh grade. That number will drop to 20 after the eighth grade, and after students transition to high school life and other extracurricular activities, the original 36 will end up being closer to 15.
“The best solution is to acquire the instruments they need,” Clark said. “Our recent success with the concert band will set us up to grow and retain our band members. But we need instruments for them to play.”
Clark outlined a plan to the school board to purchase four clarinets, four flutes and three oboes for $10,450.
“Most of the instruments that we acquired through our drives have been brass,” he said. “If we don’t invest in woodwinds it is going to greatly affect the size and quality of our band.”
He also pointed out to board members that when it bought instruments for the band, not only were they helping out an extracurricular activity, you were also investing in KDE recognized curriculum.
“Correct, not only is this an extracurricular activity, it also helps our fine arts program,” Superintendant James Kemp agreed. “And unlike other classes, the band doesn’t have the option to use other materials.”
“I would like to see this board and the community support our band,” said board member Tim McCormick. “It’s as important as our major sports.”
In the end the school board voted unanimously to award Nathan Clark and the Webster County band program the $10,450 they had requested.
J-E News Editor
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