March 21 • 05:53 AM

Boosters march to band's beat

Imlay City High School band, boosters celebrate 50 years

Members of Imlay City High School Marching Band make joyful noise through streets of Imlay City. The district’s booster club marks 50 years of growth and success this year.

October 10, 2007
IMLAY CITY — With the hours counting down to Friday's homecoming game, the football team isn't the only group of students working tirelessly in preparation for the gridiron encounter with Armada.

While the football players tend to get the glory, high school Band Director Scott Pries is putting his band members through their paces. That includes spending extra time after school, rehearsing in relative obscurity to ensure that Friday's halftime show ends on a high note.

This year's homecoming show theme is The Blues Brothers, with song selections that include: "Soul Man," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Shake A Tail Feather" and "Think," which was sung by Aretha Franklin in the Blues Brothers' movie.

Despite the comparative lack of fanfare, the band does not operate in a vacuum. Nor does it function without its own base of loyal fans and supporters.

Among the band's biggest supporters are the Imlay City Band Boosters, a passionate group of parents and community members who share an appreciation for the district's instrumental music program.

Since its inception in 1957, the Boosters have been instrumental in raising money for the purchase of instruments, uniforms, music, refreshments and travel expenses to local festivals and solo & ensemble competitions.

Retired Imlay City band director John Cummins, 84, who arrived on the scene in 1957, remembers the important role the Boosters played during the organization's formative years.

"The band boosters were very important to us at that time," Cummins recalled. "They sold fruits and candy bars and helped pay for our trips to Austria, Amsterdam and Italy. We wouldn't have been able to take those trips without them.

"The schools were a little stingy back them, so the band relied on their help," said Cummins. "They bought our instruments and uniforms and a lot of things."

The Boosters have also helped pay for more recent band trips to Disney World, Washington D.C. and New York City. Members recently purchased a new tuba (at a cost of $3,500), lanyards, t-shirts and garment bags for travel.

The money is raised through various fundraisers, including the annual Apple Pie Sale in October. Next February, the Boosters are planning a spaghetti dinner fundraiser which will feature band members performing in duets, trios and quartets.

The organization's 50th anniversary is a noteworthy accomplishment and one that current Booster president June VanPoppelen is proud to acknowledge. She's concerned, though, that the organization could lose momentum and membership as parents find themselves deluged with other commitments and distractions.

"This organization is something that has given to our band students for a very long time," said VanPoppelen. "It's something to respect and to hold onto, which is why we need to get more involvement."

VanPoppelen is encouraging parents of all instrumental music students, regardless of grade level, to participate in the Boosters.

"We had about 15 people at our first meeting of the year," she said. "We need more participation than that.

"We would like to open it up to parents of students in all grades," said VanPoppelen. "As far as we're concerned, the parents of all of Mr. Pries' students are part of the (band) boosters. They're already on the team."

Although band members won't be running for paydirt in the end zone on Friday, VanPoppelen believes they contribute as much to the school and community as the athletes.

"These kids are proud and they work hard all year long," she said. "They sweat it out in the summer months just as much as the athletes do."

Pries agrees, and he's quick to acknowledge that the Boosters are partners in the band's success.

"I can't say enough about how much the Boosters do for us," said Pries. "They purchase instruments and uniforms, and they do a lot of behind-the-scenes things, like feeding the kids at band camp and providing pizza at parades and other activities. They've been a tremendous help to us for years."

VanPoppelen's role as Boosters' president focuses primarily on the instrumental music program, but she envisions a day when the school district can boast a state-of-the-art facility to promote all of the performing arts.

"I would love it if Imlay City would support a performing arts auditorium," she said, "not just for the school, but for the whole community to use and showcase local talent."

Newly-elected Imlay City Band Booster officers include: VanPoppelen, president; Diane Rankin, vice president; Marsey Nelson, secretary; and Evert South, treasurer.

Anyone interested in joining the Boosters is invited to attend a regular meeting. The group meets the third Tuesday of each month, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the high school band room.

For more information, call June VanPoppelen at 796-9402, or Diane Rankin at 724-4843.

Staff Writer
Castle Creek
03 - 21 - 19
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