Well, here we are just a few days until we choose our new President. This one has been a doozy, but I’ve spent most of the election season with my fingers in my ears singing “Lalalala”. I used to be a total news junky with an intense desire to know what was going on at all times. The stress and upset was NOT WORTH IT, and things have continued to go CRAY CRAY with me being mainly happily unaware.
However, I do want to be an informed voter, so I have lifted my news ban just a little this fall to learn more about the issues and the candidates. For sanity and joy protection, I have tried to stay away from too much ugly and focus on the facts. The rabbit hole is very deep though, isn’t it?
After consideration and a little thought, I know what I think should happen. Drumroll, please!!!!!! (Get it?)
If I were the boss of everyone, I would make America go to band camp.
This fall, I had the privilege of picking up our oldest granddaughter after Tuesday evening band practice a few times. What fun! The evening air was the perfect temperature, I had just taught Holy Yoga and was in my happy, relaxed place, and I love any time I can spend with my sweet and fun granddaughters. The ride home would be a perfect opportunity to catch up on her busy, busy life.
Our high school has been known for years for its music program. We have closets full of trophies and gone on many band trips, including a trip to the Rose Bowl. Two of our sons were in the band and I loved every performance. Brad and I were also Marching Eagles, although the band was not the same caliber when I was a part of it, marching on the same field my kids and now grandchild march on. I never did master playing the clarinet and marching at the same time, and back then we learned a new show for every home game. That was nuts!
This was different. It was pure pleasure to watch these kids practice. They listened to their directors, they did what was asked of them without any visible complaints. They took ownership and were proud of what they were trying to accomplish. They are very busy kids, too-many of them are participating in a fall sport in addition to band, so they had to be stressed and tired.
As I sat on the top bleachers with goosebumps and tears in my eyes watching in amazement, I wondered how in the world 5 adults take 153 kids and end up with this.
So, I asked a few people. Here is what I learned……
Brian Ridlen- “During the summertime, we try to get one helper per section, during the school year we have 2 for percussion, 2 for guard, and Mr. Finley and myself for band. We spend about 170 hours of summertime, Saturday practice, and night rehearsals. We also practice everyday during band period. We try to give the students the best chance to be successful by picking out competitive music, having great people write the color guard routine and drill for the band. We also try to surround ourselves with the best staff possible. It wouldn’t be possible to achieve what we do without having students willing to work and giving them the best opportunity to be successful.
Jeffrey Finley– “It takes a lot of time, practice, and patience (for both teachers and kids), and the community’s support. It all comes down to the kids though-they have to want to be successful, and if that want or need is there, they work harder to achieve it. If that motivation or drive isn’t there, it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s not going to happen. Luckily, most of the kids we have want to do well, and be better than themselves. They are their own biggest competition.”
Kylee Whitehurst: “I have been with the Newton Marching Eagles for the past 8 consecutive years, 4 years as a performer and 4 years as a coach. The year I graduated high school, I was asked to join the coaching staff. I thought, “Sure, what a fun way to earn some extra cash while I’m in college.” Boy, was I wrong about what I was getting into. When I said yes to coaching, I signed up for long days of practice in the seemingly unbearable summer heat. I signed up for busy weeks, rushing from work to practice and then home to study. I volunteered time away from my family and friends to spend it with a hundred-some high schoolers. I chose to spend months of Saturdays waking up early to do hair and make-up, load equipment, and long car rides. I signed up for one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.The first time I stood on the sideline and watched my team perform, it was evident this was much more than a paycheck to me.
Coaching these girls means hard work and sacrifices, and sometimes even being the bad guy. But the pride of being part of their success is invaluable. I get the opportunity to show these girls what they can accomplish when they work together and believe in themselves. From struggling at camp to learn the routine to commanding any crowd they are in front of, I get to be there to push them to be the best they can be. I watch them tell themselves that they can’t, then see their faces when they do. Watching them grow as performers makes all of the nights away from studying and lost free time worth it. The feeling I get when an announcer says, “First place auxillary…NNNNNewton”, is just icing on the cake. Coaching has become part of who I am, and I am proud to say that I was and always will be a Newton Marching Eagle.”
What does this have to do with America?
These capable, talented and caring adults have figured out how to harness the energy and hearts of talented and hormonal high school students (carrying instruments and DRUMS and flags, I might add) and their parents who sacrifice time and money, to produce something beautiful of which our whole community is proud. And they certainly aren’t doing it for any financial reward.
Unbelievably, I could have also written this post about our football and volleyball teams who are also in post season play. The staff of our school system has it figured out, and I’m so PROUD OF THEM!
Can you imagine what the United States of America could accomplish with God’s blessing if ALL our leaders put the needs of the citizens first, expected and required great things of us, put systems and people in place to help, inspired us to WORK TOGETHER instead of dividing us, and then stepped out of the way and let us use our gifts and talents?
We will never have heaven here on earth, but we can do better and WE MUST.
Our family is fortunate to live in a wonderful farming community. It isn’t perfect, but we love our way of life here. Our local government officials fit the description above, and I pray the rest of America gets a taste of it.
Thank you to Melissa Stanley and Alissa Shull for allowing me to use some of their great pictures and Brian, Jeffrey, Kristie and Kylee (I’m so glad I got to be your teacher, sweet girl!) for sharing a little behind the scenes glimpse into the band life.
Let’s go Eagles!
Have a great weekend!