South Walton High School Marching Band Growing and getting recognition
By Heather Bennett
“Go forth and set the world on fire,” is a quote by St. Ignatius of Loyola, and it’s the motto of this year’s South Walton High School Marching Band, who are certainly trying their best to live up to it. The band recently received an Overall Superior score at the Blackwater Classic Marching Band Festival in Milton on September 30th.
In addition to performing at South Walton High football games, the marching band is participating in two more performance competitions this October, including the Florida Bandmasters Association marching band performance assessment being held in Panama City Beach at Arnold High School.
What once was an almost defunct program, now boasts about 40 members, almost twice as many as last year. Director Bobby Escamilla, in his second year of teaching at South Walton High, started recruiting kids from East Coast Middle School to join the marching band. The more kids are learning how good the band is, the more they want to be apart of it. “If the quality is there, the quantity will follow,” says Escamilla. Not only does he want the program to grow, but he also wants the band to continue to work hard and excel. The kids are critical of themselves and will practice until it is done right. “It’s a lot of hard work, but it can be a lot of fun,” he says.
One of Escamilla’s goals is to give kids an opportunity to be involved in the music program in various capacities. In addition to marching band, he offers classes in concert band, guitar lessons, AP Music Theory, middle school choir, and will be starting a jazz ensemble in the spring. He would also like to have an ensemble perform as the pit orchestra for South Walton High’s spring musical, which gives the students a musical career experience. “We’re planting the seeds now and showing them what’s possible.”
The program receives a lot of support from the school and the community. The Band Parent Association works hard to create fundraising campaigns to support the needs of the students. Parent volunteers run the concession stand at home football games with the proceeds helping build a general fund for the band that pays for a variety of needs. They also sell tickets at the games for a raffle drawing. The students are currently selling Yankee candles. They also plan to work again next year at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival.
The students are also raising money to buy a new drum set and other instruments. The instruments have been there since the opening of South Walton High School in 2002. Not only do they need new instruments, they need more instruments to accommodate the influx of students over the next couple of years. With growth, the marching band will also need additional uniforms in the upcoming years.
Donations are always welcome. If you are interested in donating, you can call the South Walton High School at 850-622-5020. If you would like to learn more about the South Walton High School Marching Band and a list of events for band ensemble performances, you can visit their Website at http://seahawkband.weebly.com.
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