They have their summer vacation cut short by music practice, and they're dubbed as nerds by their peers, but being part of the Lawrence High School Marching Band has its upsides too, band members say.
Getting to perform in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, following the LHS football team to the state championship and building school spirit are just some of the reasons students commit themselves to the band.
For the 1992-93 school year, that commitment began two weeks ago, when band students started devoting their mornings to learning music and marching around the LHS practice field.
The band will make its first appearance Thursday at the LHS Football Jamboree at Haskell Stadium. The jamboree, which originally was scheduled for tonight but was postponed because of rain, begins at 6:30 p.m., and the band is scheduled to play at 7:15 p.m.
Amy Mozykowski, a senior in the band, said the summer practice meant she couldn't work at a local preschool center as many hours as she would have liked. But getting to play in the band is worth the sacrifice, she said.
"STUDENTS call us band nerds, but I think people really appreciate the spirit that we bring to games and things," Mozykowski said.
Mozykowski said she often is spared the nerd epithet because she plays snare drum in the percussion section, an area traditionally associated with male students.
"A lot of people are amazed. They usually look at me and say, `How can you be in percussion? You're a girl,'" Mozykowski explained.
Although students in the percussion section have a reputation for being a wild bunch, they do work hard, Mozykowski said. In fact, the percussionists worked a couple hours a day longer than the other band members during the last two weeks' rehearsals.
For sophomores in the band, which has about 175 members, the last two weeks marked the first time they've ever had to march while playing their chosen instrument.
"THE COORDINATION thing is quite new to me," said sophomore Jed Baughman, who plays baritone horn.
Although the summer band practice cut into Baughman's summer roofing job, he said the practice has provided him an important opportunity.
"I'm making a lot of new friends," Baughman said. "People in band are pretty nice."
Jay Smith, who is beginning his fifth year as LHS band director, said, "That's a comment I hear from sophomore band members every year. When the first day of school rolls around, they as sophomores already know people. It makes Lawrence High seem a lot less imposing when they know they're going to have friends here."
Smith said that with a group as large as the LHS Marching Band the single largest student group at the school a team effort is required to have a successful progam. Smith is assisted by Avian Bear, Darrell Cox and Shanna Phenicie.
BEAR SAID the band directors in turn get a lot of help from the junior and senior band members who serve as section leaders.
"We have really fine section leaders who are in charge indoctrinating the sophomores and helping everybody learn their music. They play a very big role in helping everything get done that needs to be done," Bear said.
Overall, Bear said, "The kids we get into the band program are very dedicated. A lot of the kids started on their instruments when they were in sixth grade. There's some devotion there that you don't get in a lot of other school activities."
That commitment has demonstrated itself in a number of honors the band has received. Among those honors:
LHS last school year had six students chosen for the All-State Band. Students must first make the District I band before they can be considered for the all-state band. Because all of last year's LHS all-staters were juniors, they'll be with the LHS band again this year.
Stephanie Tallman, who'll be an LHS senior this year, was the featured soloist when the Kansas All-State Masonic Marching Band played at the Shrine Bowl this month.
In 1991, the LHS March Banding was one of only four across the country chosen to play at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
"THAT WAS a really good trip," said senior Jason Wickersheim, who can be easily spotted on the field playing a black saxaphone. "It was a big stadium with lots of people. It was kind of intimidating, but it was more fun than anything."
Mozykowski said "fun" describes the whole band experience, even if LHS's championship-winning football team creates an extra long season for band members.
"It's a lot more fun that way. We get to go to more away games, and that's a blast," she said. "Every year we go there, we're excited."