‘Ready to rock:’ THS students prepare show during band camp

Published 2:50 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – More than 200 Thompson High School students braved the heat to perfect their step during the first day of band camp for the Marching Southern Sounds on Monday, July 24.

The THS band is currently readying for this year’s Friday night lights and competitions by practicing during its annual band camp which began on July 24 and lasts until Friday, Aug. 4.

“I didn’t see a single kid waiver a moment because they are just so focused, so excited, hydrated (and) ready to rock, ”said Graham Bennett, director of bands at THS.

The Marching Southern Sounds are hard at work to prepare for this year’s show entitled, “Unrequited.”

“It’s a love story,” Bennett said. It’s not that it’s unrequited between two people, it’s the two families. Imagine a 1950s-esque Westside Story meets Romeo and Juliet.”

“Unrequited” will bring to the football stadium songs such as “When a Man Loves a Woman,” “Feeling Good,” “Big Noise from Winnetka” and “Theme from Love Story.”

In order to provide a visual accompaniment to the musical tale, the band will also be dressed in two different uniforms to represent each family in the narrative. Two individuals will also represent the main characters of the story and go back and forth from each side and will be accompanied by various props, including a street in the middle of the show and benches with lights.

A rookie camp was held the previous week, from Aug. 17 to Aug. 20, to help the 50-60 new members of the Marching Southern Sounds get their footing. Now, with the first day of band camp conquered, the full ensemble was able to practice together and rehearse the sets of their pregame presentation.

Bennet shared that ample precautions are being taken due to the level of heat experienced during the camp.

“We run 15 to 20 minute segments with three to four minute water breaks every time to make sure they’re hydrating,” Bennett said. “We’ve got plenty of shade and access to water.”

Bennet also shared that band parents have also been an invaluable resource during the camp.

“We’ve got an incredible parent group,” he said. “They sign up (and) they show up. They provide our kids—if we need snacks (or) to make sure that we’ve got the ice—even these Frogg Toggs to that keep us cool. (These) parents, this community is so incredibly supportive.”

Bennet spoke on the overall atmosphere of this year’s band season and shared what the band’s leaders want to provide students.

“We want to create an environment where all of the students have the ability and possibility to not only succeed but just have something to be proud of,” he said. “This is probably the most positive season we’ve had. The leadership has stepped up more than ever.”

This year, the Marching Southern Sounds will be accompanied by a new associate director of bands, Corey Hyman as well as the rest of the band staff that help make the THS band experience possible.

Bennett and Hyman are joined by Associate Director Rebecca Reinhardt, Percussion Director Jamiah Robbins, Varsity Dance coach Emily Bennett, JV Dance coach Harlie Wilson, Guard coach Brandon Cornelison and Majorette coach Gretchen Moore.

“We’ve got some of the finest staff that you can get,” Bennett said. “They get it and they’re local, relatively (and) from the area. It’s an incredible thing.”

Bennet shared that the band is also signed up and looking forward to its first competition on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Gadsen.

“We’re excited because we’ve heard rumors that one of our big rivals will be there, and we’ll get to see The Marching Southerners from JSU,” he said. So, I think it’s going to be an incredible experience for these kids to see the future that they can be in and college-level once they leave here. It doesn’t just end here.”

The Marching Southern Sounds can be seen supporting the Warriors during the first game on Friday, Aug. 25.