Boosters reviving marching band at South Carroll High

In the 1970s, South Carroll High School's marching band was in the Macy's Parade. Throughout the '80s and '90s, the band won multiple competitions and traveled around the country participating in parades.

By 2004, it was gone.

The time has come, according to the band supporters at the school, to bring it back.

For the last two years, the group has worked with band director John Stevenson to get a marching band up and performing for the fall 2014 season.

"I thought for some reason you could just turn on the marching band," said David Esworthy, co-president of the South Carroll Band Boosters. "It's a long-term process. You have to get the kids interested, the parents interested."

All of the school's musical groups saw a decline in interest and numbers during the early 2000s, according to Stevenson. He cited a variety of reasons for the drop. Century High School opened, depleting part of the school student body. A series of band directors meant there was little consistency in the program.

"It kind of fizzled out," said Stevenson, band director for eight years.

As a freshman, senior Cameron Truitt, 17, had concert band for only half a school year.

"It was OK," Truitt said, of having band half a year. "I definitely like full year better."

With the opening of the school's new art wing four years ago and the continuing stability of having a band director, South Carroll's musical groups have all experienced growth in recent years.

There are approximately 50 members now in the band and 50 in orchestra.

Hopes are high that the when the marching band comes together for band camp next summer, it will have at least 30 students, according to Esworthy.

"We do outreach to the middle schools and elementary schools and to the parents there to make sure they are aware of the opportunities here," Esworthy said.

The efforts seem to be paying off at schools such as Winfield Elementary, Parr's Ridge Elementary; Mount Airy Middle School and New Windsor Middle School.

More students from those feeder schools have been arriving at South Carroll High interested in continuing in the school's music programs during the last few years.

"There are many more freshmen than seniors in the band now," Esworthy said. "When we get the program going, elementary students and middle-school students can see what the program is. It will encourage them to participate in the future and to stick with it."

"I think it is a way to get kids involved and do something productive," Stevenson said. "It also gives back to the community and contributes to school spirit."

Currently, the school has a pep band that plays at home football games. Stevenson has plans to have the marching band play in local parades and at various events.

"We do need to give back to the community," Stevenson said. "It is important for students to see that, too."

New uniforms have been selected and are currently awaiting approval before being ordered. Once the holidays have passed, Stevenson will work on a theme for a halftime show.

The Band Boosters hope to raise at least $35,000 to get the marching band running. The new uniforms, which will cost about $28,000, will be paid for with matching funds from Carroll County Public Schools. Additional money raised will be used to purchase music, instruments, equipment and a trailer.

The group's first big fundraising event was Treats 4 Beats, a Halloween-themed event for children that drew about 500 people.

A second event will be held Nov.16 at Winfield Fire Hall. The Back In Step benefit to bring back the South Carroll Marching Band will feature live music, hors d'oeuvres, dancing and activities from 7 to 11 p.m.

Tickets are $20. For information visit

"For a lot of us, marching band was high school," said Eliza Yzaguirre, Band Boosters secretary and organizer of Saturday's event. "People are very excited to hear about it again. It is exciting how much it meant to them."

Though he will have graduated from high school when the marching band takes to the field next fall, Truitt is busy getting the word out and finding people to support it.

"Band ... is a tightly knit group of friends from year one," Truitt said. "It is a great experience "

"There are so many things you learn from marching band," Esworthy said. "Raising money, technical skills, leadership. Better students, better careers."

Other fundraisers scheduled are:

• Mt. Airy Inn Restaurant will donate 10 percent of each check to the campaign on Nov. 11.

• Hidey's Landscape Yard near Taylorsville will donate 5 percent of sales for firewood, mulch and other supplies when customers mention "Bring Back the Band."

• Holiday concert at South Carroll High School, 3 p.m. Dec. 12 with music by Spires Brass Band, the Academy of St. Cecillia Orchestra and South Carroll instrumental and chorus students.

• Wreath sales through Nov. 20. For information, go to http://www.cavmusic. com

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