An Editorial By Susan Reeves
Have you seen what the Mighty Tiger Marching Band students have to wear to perform in? From a distance the band uniforms look okay, but upon closer inspection they are showing their age. The black and gold costumes were purchased circa 1996 by then band director Jerry Stuart. Many people questioned why those colors were chosen in the first place, but I have yet to run across anyone with an answer. I also have not found a single person who likes our band uniforms, and most people I have spoken with did not even like them when they were brand new. We definitely need uniforms for the high school marching band.
“When we play against Pittsburg or Pleasant Grove, it is hard to determine when our band takes the field because we are wearing their school’s colors,” Athletic Booster Club President Stan Lowry said.
Current Band Director Tanya Eckstein inherited the hideous outfits when she joined MVISD in 2001. She and her staff have been good stewards of their equipment. They have been diligent to keep the uniforms clean and protected and make sure they are reusable year after year. But, after 15 years of use some of the material is getting a little thin. Perhaps they have done too good a job in their care!
“You could probably read the newspaper through the seat of several pairs of pants,” Band Booster President Tina Carter said.
The question about replacing the uniforms has been raised several times over the years, but there never seems to be any money in the school’s budget. It would be an extreme challenge during the next two years, especially with the state cutting funding to school districts and everyone tightening their belts.
“I cannot approve spending $10,000 for 30 students when we are doing everything we can to keep from cutting teaching positions,” Superintendent John Kaufman stated. There were 32 students in the marching band last year. At this time, there are 49 students registered for band for the 2011 season.
Members of the school board did not even blink when they voted for $25,000 in goods for the football team on April 14, 2011. Of that figure, $10,000 was for shoulder pads, jerseys, practice pants, cleats, etc. There were 77 players on the three high school teams last year. When looking at the pictures on the wall at Dairy Queen, it appears they have changed jerseys six times since 1996. Granted, the jerseys themselves are not as expensive as band uniforms, but when you couple that with all the other gear required the costs add up. Almost sounds like a double standard to me.
The band’s resources have been cut for the coming school year in anticipation of the reduction in state revenue. The group’s budget was reduced, but the biggest blow was the decision by the administration not to replace Susan Dennis. She was the aide who provided much needed assistance to Mrs. Eckstein, and she led the flag corp in winning several National Championships in previous years.
“I am not sure how our flag program will survive without help, but we are going to try,” Mrs. Eckstein told the Band Booster Club recently.
The band boosters do not have a membership fee. It is hard enough to get folks to join without charging. Their small group works the concession stand for Thursday night ball games and conducts several fund raisers throughout the year. They earn enough money to off-set the cost of food and drinks for band camp and to fund several scholarships each year, but they do not raise anywhere near the cost of uniforms.
“The band is an integral part of our Friday night experience and just like the football team, it is hard to have pride when you are not outfitted properly,” Mr. Lowry said.
If the school does not have the resources to replace these uniforms, then the community needs to rally around the band. Let’s start a fund raising campaign and donate money for new uniforms. Mr. Kaufman confirmed that the school district could accept donations for such a purpose.
So, everyone who has commented over the years about the band uniforms, now is the time to step up and help. Donations can be made at any branch of the First National Bank of Mount Vernon. Please make the check out to the Band Booster Club and mark on the memo line for uniform donation.