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DeKalb Band Parents Organization
Ireland Beckons as DHS Marching Barbs Begin Final Preparation for International Trip
DeKalb, IL -- Nearly two years of hard work is coming to a close as the DeKalb High School band embarks on final preparations for its upcoming trip to Ireland. The whirlwind of activity has been especially strong since last February when the ensemble publicly revealed its international performance aspirations that include the 2017 Dublin Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
As fundraising efforts begin to wane, band members and staff are now turning their focus toward preparing appearances on an international stage. According to Steven Lundin, Director of Bands at DeKalb High School, rehearsals have begun in earnest not just for the parade but for several other planned endeavors.
“We'll be playing two performances at public venues throughout the country and have been invited to perform a joint concert to promote cultural exchange with a Dublin-based youth concert band,” noted Lundin.
Moving 100 students and all the necessary accouterments half-way around the world is no easy task. In addition to every traveler’s personal items, the band must also transport the equipment needed for performances, including large, unwieldy sousaphones and marching percussion. Logistical planning for equipment transportation began months ago, but final costs to convey all of the instruments, uniforms and helmets are still unknown, necessitating a few final fundraisers in the coming weeks
Although plans for the tour were announced last February, band staff began dreaming of the trip long before that and called an exploratory meeting for families in the spring of 2015. Planning and fundraisers for a major trip began almost immediately. Students have been an integral part of fundraising, engaging in everything from typical sales fundraisers to a variety of special events. The students also worked for a portion of the money the band raised, making several added guest appears at local events and even exchanging hours of hard work for donations to travel coffers.
“As boosters and parents, we wanted to make sure our kids were invested in the trip and were actively involved in turning the dream into a reality,” said Steve Johnson, Co-Chair of the DHS Band Parents Organization, when discussing the importance of providing students with opportunities for actual work to help earn their way.
In addition to its normal fall schedule of football games, competitions and seasonal parades as well as a host of pep band performances and concerts, the DHS band added several special appearances throughout the DeKalb community in recent months. Students supported the grand re-opening of Wendy’s in DeKalb and have twice appeared at DeKalb-Sycamore Chevrolet’s summer Pre-Party Car Show.
Beyond just doing what they do best - playing music - many Marching Barbs and their parents also put in some long, physical hours to earn travel funds. The group was tapped to provide the workers needed for a large company picnic in Rochelle. This grueling day and a half came at the end of the ensemble’s annual band camp where the students had already spent 10 hours each day learning music and drill for the fall field show. Several band members worked behind the scenes at DeKalb’s annual Corn Fest, helping move garbage to keep the streets clean for festival goers. Members also held car washes and even worked hustling the balloon staging needed for targets at several local mounted shooting competitions for cowboys.
The work ethic and commitment demonstrated by band students was singled out for praise by event planners with whom the group worked.
“This year was the first time we used band members as garbage volunteers at Corn Fest. The hours were either late at night or early in the morning, and the weather was a downpour one night, but that didn't stop the volunteers from coming down and doing a fantastic job,” said Lisa Angel, DeKalb Corn Fest Chairperson.
David Cellon, Staffing Coordinator for Compass Rose Events, a Tennessee-based special events company, described the dozens of band students who worked the Rochelle picnic as energetic, dedicated and enthusiastic.
Cellon added that the members of the band represented DeKalb High School beautifully, offering this praise: “You have every reason to be proud of these students.”
Director Lundin noted that working in the local community has been an important part of both fundraising and promotion for the trip.
“Fundraising for Ireland has been incredibly eye-opening and rewarding for our band community. The sheer excitement of people when they hear about what we are doing is incredibly special for everyone involved,” said Lundin. “It's wonderful for our students to see everyday people get behind the trip and support something like this. It really lets the kids know that the community is proud of them.”
Thankful for the community support, the DHS band has worked to return the favor. In addition to regularly supporting efforts including the annual fall parade in Cortland, the Barbs have sent their jazz combo to play at DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Awards and offered a pep band to the local annual Crop Walk and DeKalb Education Foundation 5K. Members of DHS band even took a turn giving back by packing meals last fall for Feed My Starving Children.
To date, fundraising efforts for Ireland have exceeded $80,000. Via product sales and individual work opportunities, students have been able to personally raise anywhere from $25 to more than $500 toward their own individual travel costs.
“The fundraising efforts we've seen by students has greatly exceeded anything that we could have possibility imagined,” said Lundin.
Additionally, universal fundraising efforts allowed the DHS Band Parents to provide up to $350 per student toward travel fees as well as begin to cover the money needed to transport instruments to Ireland. Because final costs for shipping and related incidentals are not yet known, the BPO will hold a few final fundraisers before the last trip bills come due in April.
“Later this month, we’ll be holding our second annual plant sale, working with Proven Winners,” said Johnson.
Johnson noted that the quality of Proven Winners plant offerings sold by the band last spring has had many satisfied customers asking if sale would return 2017. Plans are being made for band students will take pre-orders for Proven Winners plants in late February with plants arriving in mid-May. The band is also working to bring back a second annual mattress fundraiser in late April or May as well.
Johnson noted that donations toward the trip are still welcome and may even be crucial to covering final shipping costs. Contributions can be sent to DHS Band care of the Music Department at DeKalb High School.
The band will be spending several upcoming Friday or Saturday nights learning music and practicing for the parade. Students and fans alike will learn more about packing and tips for international travel at an upcoming trip meeting to be held on a day others in the district have off school. Overall, nearly 150 local residents will travel to Ireland. In addition to 100 students performing with the band, four staff members and seven chaperones will travel with the group. Additionally, in a separate companion trip, thirty-seven die-hard Marching Barbs fans will be flying to Ireland to support their favorite band.
“There’s something very special about St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin,” Lundin. “We expect it will be a really special experience.”
To learn more about the trip and fundraising efforts or to get involved. email email@example.com OR visit the BPO website at www.marching2ireland.com for more information.