The graduation experience: band kids

By Hannah Clark and Sarah Skordas

Arundel High School’s graduation may have officially started at 10 am on Friday–it was actually 9:50 when the procession began–but for the music kids, preparations started much earlier. It was, in fact, weeks earlier, when sheet music was handed out and rehearsals began. Upon entering the music wing at approximately 8:25, almost an hour and a half before the commencement, one would see a flurry of activity already underway. Even before stepping across that green-painted threshold, the sounds of rehearsing could be easily heard, the rich bellow of the brass emanating out into the hallways. Between songs, the sounds heard were of a less musical variety–the shuffling of sheet music, the scraping of chairs, the thunk of plastic water bottles not reaching the outstretched hands of their intended target, and the easy ebb and flow of laughter.

grad band

One of the last pieces to be rehearsed was the infamous “Pomp and Circumstance”. The hush that spreads while the band director, Ian Burns, speaks is permeated by more than a few groans. Mr. Burns, smirking at the precedence of that moment, encourages the musicians, all clad in black formal attire, to stay energized. “You’re gonna get bored,” he starts. Then the graduates get bored. Then they walk slower. Then the musicians have to play longer and become even more bored. Before they know it, they’re stuck in a feedback loop. “Don’t end up in the feedback loop,” he advises.

grad band 2

Several trains of stand carts, percussion equipment, and flashbacks to the days of marching band later, it is 9:51. The choir stands, a sea of black readying to sing. Above the field, the buzz of a drone can be heard over the Alma mater, and the band, well-composed as always, turns to look. Four minutes later, and the graduates enter Carroll Field to the band’s carefully energized playing. It’s not even 10:00 yet and the stands are already full of the flutter of paper programs used as makeshift fans as weapons against the unexpected heat. It takes a band student to notice a certain grey-clad figure dabbing amidst all the finery, a band student to appreciate a certain bari sax player jamming out in the front row of the graduates, a familiar grin on his face. In contrast, boredom has already set in on a certain percussion member’s face, and the clock just struck 10:00.

grad band 3

A hand gesture foreign to anyone not playing “Pomp and Circumstance” signals the (second) ending as all the graduates take their seats. There’s an official welcome, and at 10:30, valedictorian Lauren Hoorens is the first out of five hundred some graduates to get their diplomas. From here on out, a majority of the band kids will have zoned out, only coming to elicit some sort of a response to these well-acquainted mentions:

10:35 Laura Bonnington and then, three people later, the Kenneth Bott

10:37 James Burcky’s name gets changed to James Berkeley

10:40 Bec Crow

10:41 Kendra Dolinka

10:45 At Brendan Gillespy’s name, several of the brass players stand up and T (an inside joke)

10:48 Sam Hendershot

10:52 Dani Kellner followed by ear-splitting airhorns

10:55 Dom Leo

10:56 John Loreg

10:57 Hanna Mathews

grad band 4

“Sarah, write in that I’m a model,” Rocky jokes after a ladybug lands on the lense of his sunglasses and he poses. “I’m just kidding,” he amends. Sure, Rocky, sure.

11:03 Jermaine Piper featuring A Singular Tassel Stuck On His Glasses

11:06 Carlo Robles

11:08 Will Schoeller

11:15 Derek “Drk” (screamed by the percussion section) Wellman

11:17 Emily Wirt

Also at 11:17, is the final graduate of the class of 2018: Nicole Zentgraf. Six minutes later, the ceremony officially concludes with a senior-selected playlist that of course includes High School Musical. Because otherwise, would it really be graduation?