Congratulations to Fort Mill on winning another state band title.
When we moved to Fort Mill some 15 fifteen years ago, one of the first things that impressed me was a highway sign leading into town, proclaiming the many years that the local high school band had won state championships.
A couple of months back, Fort Mill Times reporter Jenny Overman wrote a great series of features detailing the history of the Fort Mill band, giving us an even greater (if possible) appreciation for the incredible talent that comes from our hometown. I know Im late in acknowledging this, but Id like to thank Jenny and the Times for recognizing the many accomplishments this program has achieved over the years.
I thought I knew quite a bit about the bands history, but I learned a great deal from these articles.
As our daughter grew older, she became involved in middle school band. We came to appreciate that the quality of the high school program has its roots in middle school; they may not get the recognition of the high school programs, but one of the key reasons we seem to turn out so many gifted students is the excellent start that they receive in middle school. Our students made friends that keep in touch to this day, even though theyre now scattered all over the country.
As parents, we came to enjoy getting involved in the activities, and getting to know the kids, staff, and fellow parents. This involvement, I believe, is another key reason to the success of the music programs in this community. And when it became time for freshman year, we were all excited about the great opportunities awaiting us at FMHS. I never failed to be impressed every time I ventured into the band room and taking in the countless banners, plaques, and trophies that seemingly filled every square inch of space. And now my kid was part of this! We all learned an awful lot that year about representing this town, and never failed to be proud of our association with these kids and their program, wherever we went.
To me, our most memorable trip that year had to be the band trip to Hawaii. There was a great deal of fun and sightseeing, to be sure, but my proudest memory was watching these students perform at Pearl Harbor. Just another chapter in a very lengthy, proud tradition at Fort Mill and a very special moment in our lives.
And now, congratulations to Fort Mill on yet another state title! As former band parents, we enjoyed watching the state competition in Columbia, where the top fourteen class 4A bands in the state competed. I can relate to just how proud every student, from every band on the field, and every parent in the stands, felt that day. Every band spent many, many long hours working to get to this level of recognition. And once again, we were thrilled to learn that the best bands of the competition were named from Fort Mill, S.C.
Best bands? As in plural? Absolutely.
We only had one year to enjoy our Fort Mill experience when the new school opened here, we became Falcons. Thanks to all we had learned so far, we set about starting our own traditions. Obviously we had a tough act to follow, but it didnt hurt that we had a great director come over from Fort Mill with us! That first year, the band began with over 50 percent freshmen no seniors, and a rookie drum major who wasnt even old enough to drive. They proceeded to win every competition that year, and took second at state. Since then, they have competed now at three different class levels, and have never finished lower than second in state finals in their six years of existence. Thats quite a tradition in itself and I dont know of any other school in this state that can match that.
And, once again, we would be proud to be seen anywhere with this program.
Many readers dont realize that band continues once marching season ends there are numerous programs that continue all year to develop the great talent that we sometimes take for granted. Every January, you will see a disproportionately large number of students from our area named as all-region and all-state musicians. Many are named to regional orchestra programs, and it seems that there are always several gifted individuals to receive national recognition every year. And everywhere these students go, they represent with class and style. You could not ask for better ambassadors! Im awfully proud of every student who commits to this great pursuit of excellence. A huge thank-you goes to every director, every staff member, every school administrator, every booster, and, most importantly, every parent who makes the time to support and encourage these exceptional programs. The key to success is involvement where you can appreciate firsthand how your student learns skills that will help them the rest of their lives. And unless youre involved, you have no idea of the amount of effort invested on everyones part to make these programs, and these students, so incredibly successful.
We owe you all our thanks and support.
Fort Mills marching season is over, but they have a great trip to Ireland coming up next spring. Nation Ford still has a trip to Indianapolis for Bands of America national competition. We all expect them to represent us once again as superb ambassadors for their programs and community, and look forward to all their future successes. I am convinced that there will be many. Lets face it, we are a bit spoiled, but Im thankful for that. In John Pruitt at Fort Mill and Martin Dickey at Nation Ford, we are very fortunate to have two very gifted and classy directors. These bands reflect their leadership in every aspect of excellence, and I am proud to claim both groups as representatives of our home town. I look forward to many more years of great musicians and great music coming from our schools. And I enjoy seeing the many achievements of these students as they venture off to college not coincidentally, a disproportionate number of college students can trace their successes to the experiences they absorbed during their years in band.
By the way, that first-year rookie drum major from Nation Ford is now a pre-med biology major at USC, and an officer in her sorority. (Were convinced that she can juggle her heavy, hectic schedule thanks to the discipline and time management skills she mastered during her band days.) Her final high school performance on the field came in San Antonio in front of a national audience, where she conducted the top 97 high school musicians in the nation (including two classmates!), as drum major of the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band. Her mom and I were on the 50-yard line in the Alamodome; I can assure you that they represented this town in a first class manner. As always.
We feel incredibly lucky to have chosen Fort Mill as our hometown when we moved back to this area, and even more fortunate to have participated in the many successes associated with band in this community. Congratulations to both programs on yet another superb year keep making us proud!
Steve Turner is a resident of Fort Mill.