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Each week, the coaches from Milestone Academic Counseling offer timely advice for high school students in the Princeton area.

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Marching with the Band in HS

If I had to pick one thing about school that has changed my life, I would have to pick marching band. Yes, marching band, the group of people who play their instruments at football games and do.... something, at half-time. Our marching band was very normal and popular in the 80's, but in the 2000's we became student-run and closer to a pep band with a strong band culture. In my high school career, the band has been transitioning back to its original roots and I've been smack dab in the middle of it

I first wanted to be part of marching band when I was in 4th grade. My brother was in it and I copied him in almost everything, so of course I vowed that I would join as soon I began high school. Come freshman year, I started marching band with the enthusiasm of a puppy. I loved the music, the people, the weird way we had to walk so that our upper bodies wouldn't move (a roll-step), and playing at football games, even though I had absolutely no idea what was going on. So, of course, I had a strong bond with and nostalgia for this unorthodox style of band.

But, as I said, our marching band was atypical in a number of ways. We didn't have proper uniforms, a color guard (the people with the flags), and half our band equipment was falling apart. We couldn't even compete competitively because our lack of color guard, putting us in the 'Festival Class', a class that couldn't really compete in anything and only gained participation trophies. In past years, the band members embraced this: they played on trash cans and made up their own shows, but when I got there, we were changing into a proper band, a real one. I didn't see the problem, this old band didn't feel fake to me. I made some of my best friends my first year in marching band, I found that sort of camaraderie that you can turn too, no matter what. I still talk to the friends I made in freshman year, some of whom are sophomores in college, and I wouldn't change that first year for anything.

It's been two years since I joined marching band and since then we have gotten amazing, and expensive, new uniforms. We've performed at competitions and gotten first almost every single time. We even have a new band director, the third in six years. I still love my band. I still relish every rehearsal and every competition and that feeling you get when we play a great show. Marching band has been my constant during the school year and while all these new changes are probably for the better, this new band is not the band I fell in love with. Watching it change and become more traditional has been something I've helped with, but it's been conflicting and at times a heartbreaking experience. Seeing this band return to what it was in the 80's, traditional and conforming, before it became student-run and 'atypical', has reminded me that the status quo always wins. And that sometimes, no matter how bitter it may feel, it's for the better. At least, I hope so.

Moderated by Jake Cornelius.

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