'Explosion of excitement'

Madison Southern High School students practice for this year's marching band season Tuesday at the school.

There's a lot of work that's done behind the scenes by band parents that helps make both Madison Southern and Madison Central's marching bands as successful as they are.

Penny Wilbur, for example, has been helping with Madison Southern band for the past six years. She started when her oldest child joined the school's marching band, and now, her youngest is a sophomore with the group.

"When a student becomes a band member, all family members automatically become booster members and are invited to the monthly booster meeting, social events, fundraisers and performances," she said.

But Wilbur goes above and beyond.

"My biggest role has been the president for Madison Southern Band Boosters for past five years," she said. "This includes, and is not limited to, chairing meetings, sitting on the executive board, assisting the vice president with fundraising, putting together events, overseeing competitions, working with volunteers, chaperoning students, working in the concession stand, being part of the pit crew, doing road cleanups, helping feed a small army and anything else needed."

That means, during band season, she attends many practices, all competitions and events and works all the fundraisers she possibly can.

"It also takes me five months to plan band competitions that we host," she said. "The booster club meets year-round building budgets and planning for the next season of events. For the average booster member, we ask them to volunteer four football games, two basketball, two soccer in the concession stand, and two band competitions that we host. These are our main fundraisers that support our band. We also have some wonderful sponsors in the local community that support us."

Similarly, Jeff Lynch, treasurer for Madison Southern marching band, helps out whenever he can. He originally started five years ago, when his oldest son joined, and plans to stick around for another two years, when his youngest son graduates. In addition to being the treasurer, he's also Mr. Fix-It and hauls equipment to and from competitions. He runs the logistics part for competitions hosted by the high school, such as with parking, often working concessions and also helps with road clean up.

He said he puts in a couple hours every night and all day on a Saturday, meaning 12-18 hours.

"There's always something going on," he said.

On the other side of the volunteer spectrum is Jeremy Wasch, who is in his first year of volunteering for Madison Central's marching band, but he's watched the marching band from a distance for several years.

He's a full-time teen minister at Madison Hills Christian Church, part-time substitute teacher in Madison County Schools, as well as at Model Laboratory, and a sports enthusiast.

Wasch signed up to help with the marching band because his son joined the band as a freshman percussionist in the pit this year.

"My parents taught to get involved and always make myself available to help in any situation," he said. "Just like many other parents, I got involved because my son had a passion to join the band. My wife and I personally knew the band booster president, and she asked if we would help the cause … we couldn't say no! My wife and I answered the call to help push equipment on the field, load and unload the equipment trailers and do whatever else was needed."

Wasch said compared to other parents, he didn't put in as much time volunteering this season.

"Compared to the amount of the band practices, marches, meets and plans … I spend a very insignificant amount of time volunteering," he said. "Most of my personal involvement was the day of tournaments or dress rehearsals. It would be impossible to gauge how many hours the band prepared for their season, but if they spent 10,000 hours (definitely far more than that), I volunteered maybe 50 hours total over three months."

His main job during the season was helping with the pit during the band's routines, which includes pushing side-line instruments, equipment, electronics on and off the field during competitions.

"There were 15-20 items that parent/sibling volunteers would push into place (30 yard line - 30 yard line) as the band would enter the field, then remove them as the band exited the field after completing their routine. I would also help unload and load all these pieces at competition sites into a semi and multiple large trailers," he said.

Then as the season went on, more props were added to the routine, and Wasch organized the 40 people needed to help move and remove the props from the field, as well as assembling and disassembling the props at weekly tournament sites and dress rehearsals.

"There are many people who deserve a mountain of credit for making the season a huge success, I was just honored to be asked to participate," Wasch said.

"The success of a team falls on the majority, not the minority. Regardless the organization, one person or just a few people can not be successful in a mountain of tasks," he said. "With a band the size of Madison Central (250+ students), it truly takes a village of people pitching in to help to go the distance. From dropping off donations of food, to moving equipment, to building sets and backdrops, altering and organizing uniforms, setting up travel plans to tournaments, asking for community donations and doing a hundred other jobs … running an amazing band program takes an army of parents/volunteers."

Wasch said he just enjoyed being able to give his time to the band.

"It is true, a person is blessed more when he or she gives than when he or she receives," he said. "I was the one who was truly blessed in this process, watching an army of Madison County neighbors come together for a great cause … attempting to win a 4th State Band Championship in five years. Every time we assembled we saw the looks of determination on the faces of the students to continue towards excellence and it was our energy of perseverance."

He said he could be involved with the band for as much as seven more years, as he has twins currently in sixth-grade band at Caudill Middle School.

"I would offer my services as long as my children are involved, someone no longer needs my help or I am physically unable to help … whichever comes first," he said.

Though Wilbur, Lynch and Wasch volunteer different amounts, doing different things, they all do it for the sake of their children, and to help the community at large.

"Some of these kids don't have a positive role model and look for that in marching band," Lynch said. "Half the band calls me dad. That's why I continue to help as much as I can."

Wilbur said it also helps the children with music education, love, support, work ethic and a second family.

"Supporting the band means a great deal to me, because I was a band kid, too," she said. "I know firsthand what a quality music program can do for a student, both academically and socially. My high school music career gave me opportunities that I would not have had if I wasn't a part of the band program. So, I want to work hard to help create the best possible music program Madison Southern has to offer for not only my kids, but all of Madison Southern's student body."

Wasch expressed similar sentiments.

"I continued to help out not just because I wanted my son to succeed, but I wanted to see the entire band reach it's goals," he said. "I want to support any organization that my son, and other students I have a relationship with, view as important. The band is not bigger than Madison Central High School, but an appendage of it; as is the football team, baseball team, volleyball team, soccer teams, drama club, academic club, etc. When any team, club or organization inside Madison Central succeeds, Madison Central as a whole succeeds. I chose to directly support the band because I had a vested interest in my household as well as financial interest through lessons, fees and equipment.

"As an active member in Madison County, I want to see all of our programs succeed on the state level, especially when in competition with neighboring communities (Lexington area included)"

Wilbur and Wasch also expressed that more volunteers are always appreciated.

"There were two disturbing comments that I heard throughout the season from parents," Wasch said. "One parent brought a dish to the Tournament of Band (early October) and said, 'If this one dish is all I have to do this season to help the band, I'm totally fine with that!' Another parent explained how great it has been to watch the band all season from the stands, insinuating they only come to watch the band perform but do not volunteer.

"What would happen if every parent did more than just pay a $600 band fee at the beginning of year, brought one dish for a hosting tournament or sit and cheer from the stands? If at least one person per band student volunteered, so many more things could be accomplished throughout the season, encouraging the students all the way to another championship. I completely understand that many people are limited to volunteering due to availability, health and financial commitment, but with the band continuing to grow, volunteers should not be harder to find but the pool should be overflowing with people, and that is just not the case."

Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.

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