Giving a boost

Published 11:39 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

When a school year winds down, most parents look to the summer months as a small vacation, but band parents at Andalusia High School see the time as a perfect opportunity to prepare for the next marching season.

Sandy Neal, president of the Andalusia High School “A Sound Tradition” Band Booster club, said the summer months are often as busy as the school year.

“We have our first meeting on the first Tuesday night of the month of June,” she said. “We invite the freshmen parents to become involved as soon as possible.

“Andalusia High School is renowned for its ‘Sound Tradition’ marching band and the band boosters do their part to create a quality show on the field and a quality experience for the band students,” she added. “We raise money to help with the many things the band needs that most people don’t think about. We pay for the music, purchases of new instruments, upkeep of existing instruments, and transportation for the band to attend football games and competitions, among other things.”

Neal said several fundraisers are held by the boosters throughout the year to generate funds for uniforms, equipment maintenance and travel expenses.

“This year we are also supporting the purchase of the band’s new uniforms and our biennial trip in the spring,” she said. “We have made a nice down payment on our uniforms but we still owe over $8,000. June is our kickoff for the ad sales for our football program for the fall season. Copies of the previous year’s ad along with an attached letter are given out at the meeting for boosters to collect the ads for the upcoming year.

“Also in the month of June we start signing up volunteers to help with the concessions at the World Championship Domino Tournament sponsored by the Rotary Club,” she added. “This club graciously lets us provide the concessions for the tournament as one of our fund-raisers for the summer. This past tournament we made a little over $1,400.”

According to Neal, the current focus is completing all necessary work to prepare for the upcoming marching band festival in Andalusia.

“Beginning in the middle of August and the whole month of September we concentrate on our largest fund-raiser of the year, the A-Town Invitational on Sat., Oct. 4,” she said. “This year is our fourth annual event and we are hoping to have 20 bands or more participating. This will bring in a crowd between 5,000 to 7,000 to Andalusia for the day.”

Neal said that committees, composed of parents, band students, alumni and community volunteers, are created to handle all areas of the event including concessions, bus parking and registration, warm-up areas and guides for the bands, general parking, unloading of equipment, press box, hospitality and admissions.

“The band students are required to work all day and parents work as many hours as they can,” she said. “It’s always a good thing to see the participating bands work so hard to prepare to compete against each other. The award ceremony at the end of the day is one of the highlights of the day.”

In addition to occupying the sidelines to help usher the AHS band students on and off the field during Friday night’s halftime performance, Neal said several booster parents power the concession stands to generate funds for the band.

“You will see many band boosters working at our new concession stand on the visitor’s side of the field,” she said. “Please come over and purchase some delicious hamburgers, boiled peanuts other snacks and drinks.

“We appreciate the support of the community and band parents throughout the year,” she added. “Without this support, our band would not be able to continuously be the top-flight program expected of us.”

Anyone who would like to become a band booster, even if you don’t have a child in the high school, may contact Sandy Neal at 427-8144 in the evenings. Membership is $25 a year.