HAMMOND -- The St. Croix Central High School band has not only performed in concert halls, but it has also marched down the street during the summer in various festival parades. The band's 2019 season, however, will be remembered as the first year the band showed off its skills in music and marching on the football field.
“One of the biggest changes I saw was the camaraderie among the band. Being together in sit-down band is one thing, but always being put on the spot, having to perform together in order to do well and having a common goal to work towards together was different,” said senior and drum major of the band Grace Hanson. “It was also interesting to be in a position where everyone was on the same level since almost none of us have had even a small glimpse into the world of marching band. We didn’t even know that world existed until we got to some of the bigger shows and saw the other bands who have been at this for a while.”
In addition to adding field marching to the program, the band — which consisted of 40 students — also got new uniforms for the first time since 1992.
“The change from parade marching to field marching was pretty cool to see and wasn’t too difficult. With the parades, the way we had done them, you learned your song, learned to march in lines and that was really it,” said director Sean Conway, who is in his third year at SCC. said. “That isn’t really a big progression or growth to take those skills and move them to the field. It is just the basic refinement of those skills.”
According to Conway — who has been a part of marching bands since he was in high school — the decision to move from a parade band to a marching band wasn’t a necessary change, but it was the logical next step for the program as a whole.
“Once I learned the way the district works and the values of the school, it only seemed right to be able to provide that opportunity for some of those students,” Conway said. “I feel that way because marching band was such an impactful experience for me. I want to make sure my students have that same chance.”
The SCC HS marching band’s first field show, which took place at the homecoming football game, was titled “Sonic Boom” and consisted of three songs: “The Greatest Show” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones and a Spanish song called “El Tiburón.” Conway chose the lineup because the music is fun to play and helps students learn fundamental concepts of marching band.
“The music this year was great. It was powerful and heavy. I felt like just doing the positioning for the show was fun, but when we added the music in, I knew I was part of something bigger. I was super excited to perform in front of people,” said junior clarinetist Mya Schlueter.
Since the entire band was in the same class during school, members did not practice together outside of class time. That meant the entire 450minute period was spent outdoors getting in as much field time as possible.
“It was difficult to get it all in during class, but that made it more vital for us to focus during class. I think we got more use out of our class period that way,” Hanson said.
After the homecoming game, the band went on to perform at the Baldwin-Woodville field show competition before ending the season at the Youth In Music Marching Band Championships at the U.S. Bank Stadium.
“The Youth In Music event was a crazy long day. We warmed up in the snow, which was different. It was really fun to play on a field of that caliber and quality, which is really different from performing on grass. Then we got to sit down and watch other bands perform, which was fun. We got to see how different a performance can be even from bands that aren’t that far away from us.”
Looking back at the season as a whole, Conway feels that the marching band exceeded his expectations for its first year. However, the most important takeaway from the season was that he felt his students were having fun throughout the process.
“It was cool to see some of my students being so excited and passionate about something that i’m equally passionate and excited about. It makes me really excited going forward,” Conway said.
The plan for next season is to continue to grow the program and keep the students excited. However, the director said, the band’s equipment needs will need to be addressed to bring the program up to the level of established marching bands.
“Our neighbors in the community have been doing it for a number of years and we need to get up to where they are. Not because we need to compete. That isn’t our goal right now. It is about teaching and having a good experience,” Conway said. “But to make their experience better we have to have those things.”
Varela and Hanson said they hope that the class of 2020 leaves a solid base for the program to grow and continue to thrive.
“It has been memorable to be part of the first year of marching band at St. Croix Central. As a senior, it has been really cool since we could lead the way as upperclassmen, but then we know that there are still kids behind us that can continue on and make the program better,” Varela said. “I’m excited to see how things go from here for the band. I hope we can get to the caliber where we get a big marching band and a pit and color guard. I’m sure we can get there as more people see what we can do and more people join.”