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James Clemens High School Band resumes marching, music to beat of a different drummer

MADISON – “… Perhaps he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” — Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau’s thoughts apply, at least symbolically, to the protocol that James Clemens High School Band has accepted to perform again with constraints of the COVID-19 lifestyle.

As soon as Alabama mandates allowed, approximately 170 Jets Band students returned to their practice field on Aug. 5. After receiving music and instructions for the 2020 show, the band was rehearsing twice weekly by Aug. 18.

“Our students are dedicated, and marching band is an important part of their education and their student experience,” Band Director Keith Anderson said. “We have been able to implement safety standards in alignment with the district’s guidelines and, with the blessing of our school administrators and the district, that allowed us to return to play, so to speak.”

For the first several days of practice, only one section met at a time – not the full band. Directors and boosters issued mandatory safety precautions. Daily, all members had a temperature check. For outdoor practices, members continuously followed social distancing.

Students could opt to enroll for in-person band classes or pursue virtual musical education, which Anderson called “absolutely the right call.”

Band boosters have accepted their traditional tasks for transportation of students, instruments and props; serving meals to students and staff; manning concession stands; coordinating uniforms; and running fundraisers.

“We have a great network of parents who continued to volunteer their time and expertise to the organization, no matter what the situation,” Jets Band Boosters President Dave Stewart said.

Assistant Band Director Brian Sims said numerous questions are unanswered, while school leaders make decisions. “I wish I had the answers, but these are uncertain times,” Sims said. “Our students are rolling with it, they’re just glad to be out there, and it’s the first thing in many months at school that feels ‘normal’ to them.”

Drum Majors, who conduct the band for stands and field, have preeminent leadership roles in the organization and work closely with directors. James Clemens 2020 Drum Majors are Lauren Assaf, a senior who plays flute, and Conrad Burns, a junior who plays bass clarinet/mellophone.

Section leaders relay instructions to other members, usually who play the same instrument:

* Flutes — Caroline Perkinson, Subrata Satyal.

* Clarinets — Katelynn Tucker, Lauren Campbell.

* Alto saxophones — Caitlin Eckstein.

* Tenor saxophones — Jackson Lanier.

* Trumpets — Rian Marcus, Maddie Henslee.

* Mellophones — Allyson Thammavongsa.

* Trombones — Anthony Cruz, Ian Zalamea.

* Baritones — Kourtland Harmon.

* Sousaphones — Logan McCaghren.

* Drumline battery — Jason Pollard, Julian Murrah, Eli Stewart.

* Front Ensemble — Justice Bright.

* Color Guard Captains — Alivia Borowicz, Alaina Burnham, Isabella Campbell, Emma Drake, Bridgette Shereyk, Shelby Waggoner.

* Dance Team Captains — Alyson Park, Annika West.

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