Carbon High School students and band leaders have been striving to revive the marching band program and get new uniforms so they can compete in state band competitions and possibly beyond.
At the Feb. 10 Carbon School District Board Meeting, the board made their dream come true by funding $49,000 for new uniforms.
The school has had a marching band – including a national championship one – but a number of years ago it was discontinued.
The effort to revive the band began last year came when Tanna Jenson and Chris Sweeney worked with some students. The students performed during some football game halftimes last fall on the Dinos home field, but played without uniforms. Since then the students and leaders have been working to establish the band as one that could represent the school in competition.
“When I was hired, I was actually asked if I would ever be willing to start a marching band, so I guess it started about two years ago when I took the job at the high school,” said Jenson in an email. “I was also approached by other administration, parents, and students at the beginning of the year. About halfway through the year I got talking to Chris Sweeney about his experiences in high school and college marching band. It was at that point that we really decided to do it and started planning.”
Jenson and Sweeney approached the board about purchasing uniforms during the January board meeting, but at the time the board felt it needed more time to think about the situation. The cost of each individual uniform is about $490 and buying all the band members uniforms at one time seemed like an enormous sum. They were also concerned about other activities where students often have to pay for their own uniforms and equipment. The pair along with students in the band said they were willing to do some fund raising and in the end that effort along with other factors led to the board approval for the purchase.
But getting a marching band started again without much current tradition is tough.
Watching the pros
“A lot of what we’ve been doing is just getting the kids exposed to (the concept of) marching band,” stated Jenson. “They are used to parade bands, but they’ve never really seen field shows before. We took a group of kids up to a show over the summer called “Corps Encore.” It is a professional drum and bugle corps show that travels around every summer. The kids loved it and it got them even more excited to start a marching band.”
The group also went to see some competitions in which other Utah high school bands were involved, something Jenson and Sweeney want to have the students participate in.
“We took the majority of the kids who were interested to a few different Utah marching band competitions so they could see some high school bands,” said Jenson.
That move apparently really got the students on board to create a marching band.
Marching band excellence at Carbon High is not unknown and at one time was a huge deal. In June 1933 Carbon High won the National High School Band Championships in Evanston, Ill.
In 1965 the Carbon High Marching Band was invited to participate in the 1966 Rose Parade on New Years Day. It was one of only four high school bands from Utah that were invited to the big parade between 1950 and 1976.
“It was a cool experience,” said Mike Milovich who was a sophomore clarinet player. “What many people don’t remember is that we were named the number one band in the parade that year and they came to the school and presented us with a trophy afterward.”
Milovich said that at the time their need for uniforms was great too. They had been wearing old uniforms and the Elks Club paid for new uniforms so they could go to the parade. The band, their parents and others raised enough money to send the band to California. The band also went the next year to the Lions Club Parade in Chicago and then later went and performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Now with the band uniforms on their way, Jenson and Sweeney hope for an equally great experience for the students who participate in the future.