This week’s news cycle hosted a rare feel-good story out of Mustang, Oklahoma. The Mustang High School Marching Band has been preparing for some time to compete in the Bands of America Grand Nationals in Indianapolis. Months of practice, saving, and planning were almost lost when their chartered bus transportation fell through at the last minute.
As a band parent and former Band Booster President for Stillwater High School Pioneer Marching Band, I know too well the anguish this caused.
Marching Band is a unique subject in school. Like athletics, it is a district-sponsored course. But when it comes to paying for it, families and community members often foot most of the bill. Funding for a trip of this size would have started at least a year ago. Fundraisers, such as pie auctions, silent auctions, march-a-thons, restaurant sponsor nights, cookie dough and wrapping paper sales, and ultimately a monthly payment plan by parents would be in place. The contract for the buses would be one of the first logistics to be handled. So when the bus company backed out, going to Indianapolis seemed hopeless.
But that’s where the beauty of community comes in. The directors, the boosters, the district all put their heads together and started getting the word out. Multiple scenarios were planned: backup plans to backup plans. Ultimately, buses were borrowed from neighboring school districts, drivers either volunteered or were recruited, and the Mustang High School Marching Band successfully embarked for Indianapolis on Wednesday.
One news channel reported that “rival districts” saved the day. They may be rivals on the football field, but when it comes to marching band, they are allies. Attending marching competitions – and I’ve attended many – is a lesson in humanity. The stands are filled with parents and supporters for the different bands performing, but there’s never trash talk about other bands or booing. Instead, there’s applause and cheers, regardless of the level of performance or whether the band comes from a large or small school. Every person in the stands knows the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that go into performing a marching show – mainly because they know and love someone on the field.
Marching bands are a microcosm of society. Students come from all walks of life, ranging from age 14-18, and have unique personalities. Yet, they come together to create a stunning eight-minute performance where all music and movement is memorized. This is no easy feat, and that’s why band parents all across the state understood the gravity of Mustang High School’s situation.
To me, this story is a perfect reminder of what the Oklahoma Standard really is: lending a hand, playing our part, and remembering that by helping our neighbor win, we win.
I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned through marching band and I’ll be cheering for Mustang High School Marching Band, and all the bands, competing this weekend. Because in the end, we are all in this together and everyone counts.
Ranson represents Stillwater in District 34 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 405-557-7411.