FHC Marching Band

Payton Field , Public Relations Manager

fhc-band-story-picOn most Friday nights in the fall, the lights gleam down on the student section as the buzzer sounds for halftime. Looking out onto the field of eager and determined faces, senior drum major Bennett Hendricks, prepares to conduct the band.

“One of my favorite part [about being drum major] would definitely be the Friday night games,” Bennett said. “ I have the role of conducting the band and it’s exciting to now be in front of the band, after all these years of playing in it.”

Bennett is one of three drum majors, splitting the role with seniors, Katie Knister and Emily Toppen. All three have played in band throughout their high school years, and agree that standing in front of the band conducting is definitely a surreal experience.

“As I stand in front of the band, it is their talent and energy that fuels me through,” Emily said. “I can still remember the drum majors that I looked up to when I was a freshman, and now, I am serving that same role, which is truly humbling.”

When standing in front of 150 students, the amount of eagerness and pride reciprocated is something that both Bennett and Emily notice within the band.

“There is just so much joy and pride through every halftime show,” said Emily, who also serves as the student director for FHC theatre.  “It’s something so indescribable when you have 150 pairs of eyes looking at you, watching for the downbeat, and continuing to play with such passion.”

Agreeing with Emily, Katie said that at first she felt a lot of pressure standing in front of everyone, but now she has so many moments where she thinks about how lucky she and the others are to be working with such talented people.

Although the three drum majors’ talents shine on the field, they are also displayed at the annual summer band camp, performing in lip syncs and talent shows in front of the whole group.

“I really enjoyed performing the lipsync,” Bennett said. “Although, Emily and Katie were a lot more into it that I was.”

According to Emily, the drum major lip sync included a variety of different songs from Disney Movies, Usher, and even Ke$ha. It was a crowd favorite and resulted in a lot of laughter.

“One of my favorite parts of our lip sync was when we did the beginning scene of The Lion King,” Emily said.  “We took a Simba pillow with a picture of Mr. Ash on it and raised it up in the air, as the rest of the sections bowed down to it.“The whole thing brought us together for the night and I will never forget it. As far as the rest of the lip sync, what happens at band camp stays at band camp.”

Another highlight of the lipsync, according to Katie, was that she dressed up like Macklemore, while singing and dancing to “Thrift Shop.” She and Emily also both enjoyed “Love is an Open Door” and the “Circle of Life.”

Being at bandcamp is more than just lipsyncs and talent shows. During the week at CMU’s campus, the members of the band worked almost 10 hours each day on perfecting their songs and becoming stronger as a whole.

“As weird as it may sound, one of my favorite parts of band camp this year were the rehearsals,” Emily said. “Standing outside for three hours in 90 degree heat was so enjoyable. This year we were able to set all of the drill for our halftime show at camp. That hasn’t happened since my freshman year, and has been a goal ever since.”

This year’s group of students in the band have proven to be such a hard working and determined group. According to band director Mr. Ash, this year’s group is always willing to try new things and work the best they can.

“The focus, determination, and positivity that everyone brought made our rehearsal time so enjoyable,” Emily said.  “With Mr. Ash’s leadership, help of the staff we hired for the week, and guidance of the leadership team, we had some amazing rehearsals- rehearsals that I have been waiting for all of high school.”

Katie said that everyone was supportive of everyone. She rarely heard any complaints; instead, so many people would focus on the band’s goals and give their best effort in order to accomplish them. In the end, that allowed them all to learn the entire show during band camp.

“The trickiest thing is catching everyone up to speed,” Mr. Ash said. “ We have seniors who have been playing for years and freshman who are just beginning. But this year, this year we have some very strong players who are willing for anything.”

Now entering her last year, Emily still remembers day one.

“I can still remember my first day of band camp freshman year, being overwhelmed with all the energy marching band had,” Emily said. “I was pretty timid coming into the program, but I got hooked fast.”

Most students stay with and continue band all through high school. Although sometimes students take a gap year, the majority of kids stick with band and grow, improve, and interact with new people each year.

“Now that I’m a senior, I definitely feel like I’ve made band my own, and that now I can give back,” Katie said. “As a freshman, I had so much to learn, and I often relied on other people to know what was going on. Now, I’ve embraced so many aspects about band that I didn’t even know existed as a freshman, and I’m able to encourage and help those around me and meet so many new people.”

After working together for so many years and seasons, the three drum majors have grown to respect and work closely with one and other.

“Katie and Emily are great. We have a lot of the same opinions on things so, I think we all work really well together.” Bennett said.

Agreeing with Bennett, Katie says she is so happy to be able to work with the people she does. They inspire each other to work harder and do their best.

“This program helped me become the person I am today, and I am so grateful for the memories, lessons, and friendships it has given me,” said Emily. “Now senior year is finally here, and I’m able to give that same experience to the new freshmen. It’s special for me because Susan Toppen, my younger sister, is a 9th grader now in the program. To see her excitement and love for the program, along with countless others, makes me feel that the program is in excellent hands for the years to come.”