HHS marching into the season

Helena High School band members prepare for the upcoming football season at the new high school. (Contributed)

Helena High School band members prepare for the upcoming football season at the new high school. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

The steamy weeks of July 21 and 28 saw the start of summer band camp at the new Helena High School. With the lawn sprinklers arcing in the background on newly greening playing fields, some 187 band students plus color guard, and majorettes, spread across the back parking lot practicing early morning drills.

On the pavement, students were counting, counting and counting while holding invisible instruments as they learned their field show drill. Scheduled from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. each weekday, the students go inside and work on the music with their instruments in the afternoon.

“Our goal at the end of band camp is to be halfway complete with the drill and past halfway with the music,” said band director Jeff Burnside. “We have also started working on some of the tunes we play in the stands.”

“Recently,” Burnside said, “we played the new school alma mater with the full band and actually had parents with tears in their eyes.”

Each band warm up begins with playing the alma mater. The music was arranged by Burnside. The words are a joint effort of the faculty and others involved with the school.

“We wanted something that would be unique for Helena; the same for the fight song. We wanted something that the kids would feel is just theirs.”

“It was incredibly special to me to have arranged the alma mater and it was very neat when we heard it for the first time,” Burnside recalls.

“Knowing all that has gone into the preparation of getting us where we are now, I have to say the community has been phenomenal,” he said. “Every time we have said we need something, the parents have come through.”

The band recently performed the alma mater for Athletic Director Watt Parker. Burnside noted there is a big effort under way to connect the band program and the athletic program.

“In my 26 years of teaching,” Burnside shared, “I have never seen or felt the kind of camaraderie and teamwork that I am seeing here. Mr. Peoples’ expectations are high. The expectations of the community are high and I think that community spirit is transcending into the school itself to unite the cooperation and support of everyone.”