‘Out of this world’: HHS marching band concludes band camp

Published 11:11 am Wednesday, August 9, 2023

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

HELENA – The Helena High School marching band recently completed their annual band camp on Thursday, Aug. 3, and are looking forward to an eventful and celebratory new school year. This year’s halftime show will be themed around famous films centered around the subject of outer space.

The title of the show is “Out of this World: A Journey Into Space” and will feature song selections from numerous films. In order of appearance, the films will include, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Treasure Planet,” “October Sky,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker.”

“We are feeling very positive about the upcoming year, as students are really enjoying the show concept and continuing to grow upon the success our program experienced last year,” said Brenton Traylor, assistant director of bands. “We have a great group of kids with a very positive mindset. Overall, band camp this year was a great success as we had the full show music learned and all of the drill was learned during camp.”

Beginning on Monday, July 24, the camp saw students brave the elements in the midst of what proved to be the hottest month in recorded history. With at least 21 of the 30 hottest days ever recorded (global average temperature) taking place during this July, hydration was a key focus for the band faculty.

Careful attention was paid to ensure the student’s wellbeing, an effort that took on all new importance given the record humidity and heat. Tents and chairs were set up to provide shade and help maintain morale during regular hydration breaks that included water, Gatorade and popsicles. Because of this outstanding effort, no issues were had in regard to students overheating.

“This year has been a hot camp, so extra precautions are in place to deal with the heat and make sure that students are safe and able to practice the way they need to,” said Jeffrey Burnside, director of bands for Helena High School.

Burnside, who is now beginning his 36th year as a band director, has helmed the HHS band and marching band since the school’s opening. He is also the former band director of Pelham High School, having made the switch upon HHS’ opening.

The chief outcome that Burnside and his staff are striving for as a result of this year’s band camp can be summed up with two simple words, constant improvement. Improvement forged through teamwork, unified effort, hard work and practice. Improvement forged in the July and August sun.

Many groups in the band have been hard at work since even before the camp and have been practicing over their summer breaks, practicing everything up to and including choreography. All of which has been done in the hopes of achieving a better starting position for the new year’s field and competition performances.

“The ultimate job satisfaction comes from watching the students when they perform,” Burnside said. “There is no substitute for the sense of satisfaction (you see) when you see the look on their faces as they perform what they have worked so hard to prepare, whether (that be) outside in a fieldshow or on stage in a concert.”

This year’s halftime show was revealed on the final day of the band camp, where it was played in its entirety by the full band, for the first time. It will be an exciting show that features marching formations depicting famous characters and the band staff assures that additions not commonly utilized in the past will also make an appearance.

“We have added a few musical ideas and props that we don’t normally do, so I think the crowd will really enjoy it,” Burnside said. “The tunes in the show are very recognizable and will be fun for all those in the crowd, whether they are big band buffs or not.”

If the sweat left on the field is any indication, the Helena High School marching band will be entering this year ready to impress the crowds both on the field at halftime and in competition.

The marching band is currently scheduled for afternoon practices to continue every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. HHS’ opening home game this year is set for Thursday, Aug. 24th, in a rare Thursday-night spectacle that will see the Huskies play against the Chelsea Hornets.

This will be Helena High School’s 10th school year after being formed in 2014.