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Marching to a different beat

The cancellation of the fall high school football season and the unlikelihood that marching competitions will be held this fall have area high school bands marching to the beat of a different drummer.

Maurice Ellis, director of the Central High School marching band, said this year has brought many challenges, but the band is moving forward.

“Even though it is a huge setback for the band, we decided to have band camp still,” Ellis wrote in an email. “There is a small possibility that football may end up in the spring based off of what VHSL said in their last statement. We want to be prepared for that.”

Ellis said he reworked band camp to make sure it followed the suggested guidelines.

“For band camp, I separated the band into sections to keep the daily numbers at 10 or less,” Ellis said. “Each day was a different section. One day I had the flutes and clarinets. another day I just had the trumpets and so on. We wore masks and were socially distanced at all times.”

Ellis said the band does not have plans to livestream any performances at this time. Rehearsals have been reduced from daily to twice per month as the band copes with what a season with performances will be like.

Other area bands are also coping with a very different time in many of the same ways.

“This year is certainly presenting a challenge to many marching bands across the nation,” Tiarrah Crouch, band director at Prince Edward High School said Wednesday, July 22, by email. “The Prince Edward Marching Eagles will continue preparing a show in hopes that they will an opportunity to perform it via live stream or a socially distanced parent performance towards the end of the semester.”

Chip Jones, the superintendent of the Cumberland County Public Schools said marching band would remain an elective class at the high school and that he was confident Scott Gordon, the band teacher at Cumberland would work to keep the band moving forward.

Crouch said students will rotate in and out of the physical classroom as well as spending time on the football field learning drills and rehearsing while maintaining social distance.

“At this time we are not able to have after school rehearsals or participate in our typical sporting events, but my students and I are maintaining  positive and open minded for the upcoming season,” Crouch said in her email. “We share stories with one another frequently about how music has the power to heal and bring those together. This is a perfect time to embrace the power that music has for students to feel connected to one another during this unprecedented time. No matter how the season looks for this year, we will do it together and make it fun.”

(Reporter Titus Mohler contributed to this story.)