Sweating to the beat

“Okay, remember that we’re not every man, woman and child for themselves out here, please look out for the folks around you,” shouted Pelham High School Band Director Justin Ward from high atop the Tower of Power’s actual tower.

“Okay, remember that we’re not every man, woman and child for themselves out here, please look out for the folks around you,” shouted Pelham High School Band Director Justin Ward from high atop the Tower of Power’s actual tower.

By Connie Nolen / Community Columnist

“Okay, remember that we’re not every man, woman and child for themselves out here, please look out for the folks around you,” shouted Pelham High School Band Director Justin Ward from high atop the Tower of Power’s actual tower.

From this tower, Ward directs, adjusts, and prepares his band to take the field very soon.

Practice starts early with arrival between 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. Shade tents are set up for breaks. Dancers, majorettes and color guard members stretch. Sunscreen is applied and instruments are prepared. The students will work under the summer sun perfecting their show until 11. After lunch, each section of the band and the visuals meet inside for more work and practice. The students are incredibly good-natured about the heat and the hard work.

“The mental and physical demands of three weeks of band camp have challenged our students and staff to get out of themselves and into the team,” said Ward. “Everyone has given all of their talents and energies through over 130 hours of rehearsal and preparation over the past three weeks. They have laid the foundation for an outstanding year that displays the talents of our students to our community.”

Ward, a veteran of 28 band camps, is only 32 years old. With a youthful perspective and a wealth of experience, his energy and encouragement seems to be contagious.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this program,” said Jessie Weldon, one of the PHS drum majors. “Thanks to everyone’s hard work at this year’s band camp, we’re paving the way for a very talented and successful new band program.”

While the PHS Tower of Power Marching Band has always been a source of Panther Pride, with a new band director, new leadership at every level and many students marching and performing for the first time, it truly is a brand new band program.

“During camp, marching musicians and individual performers trade the ‘ME’ for the ‘WE’ and become a band,” said Ward.

The Pelham High School Tower of Power Marching Band prepares to take the field.