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Parents make plea for marching band uniforms

September 21, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

INWOOD, W.Va. - And the band marched on ... in old uniforms that are hot, too few in number and that have been "patched and repatched," a parent of a Musselman High School marching band member said Monday night.

Speaking to Berkeley County Board of Education members, Shelly Kesecker asked the board to come up with $40,000 to buy new band uniforms and three needed instruments - a tuba, a bassoon and a set of chimes.

Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said he will meet with the band boosters president and Musselman High School principal and draw up a contract. He said the contract could include grant money and a zero-percent interest loan.

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Third-year band director Michael Knepper said the number of students in the band has grown to 71.

"It's becoming too much for us to handle," Knepper told board members. "It's the growth of a champion and I want them to dress like one."

A member of the band modeled a red, white and green uniform like those the school hopes to buy. Simple in design, the uniform features elongated peaked cuffs reminiscent of those found on superhero costumes.

Knepper said the uniform was designed for a world-champion band and was one of the few red and green ones he could find that did not look like it was meant to be worn only at Christmas.

Red and green are Musselman High School's colors.

This year Musselman High's band is competing for its third straight chapter championship in a regional tournament that features bands from the Eastern Panhandle, Maryland and Virginia, Knepper said.

Mike Fairless, whose son is in the band, said music education offers a number of benefits. Being in the band improves self-esteem, teaches teamwork and offers a chance for social interaction students might not otherwise have.

Music crosses cultures, it allows children to use their natural talents and gives them a sense of pride and achievement, Fairless said.

It's also fun for both students and the community.

"I go to the football games to watch the band," Fairless said.

Fairless said students with a music education score higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and are less likely to have drug problems.

Arvon said after the meeting that he supports buying new uniforms and, after drawing it up, will present the contract to board members for approval.

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