Help the high school band get uniforms

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Cement mason Ken Marlow worries a lot about the Lincoln High School band. He asked City Council last week to waive the $615 McBean Park Pavilion rental fee for the school band’s upcoming inaugural jazz dinner dance. It’s all because of dilapidated instruments. And a lack of uniforms for new band members. Marlow is the marching/concert band’s fundraising chairman. His son, Kenny Marlow, plays tenor saxophone in the band and is band council president. Ken Marlow has watched his son progress in musical proficiency since Kenny started music classes in fifth-grade. His son has been in the high school’s band for four years. The benefits of being in the band are significant. “First off, the band had the highest grade point average of any class in the school last year. They have to keep their grades up,” Marlow said. “It’s like a family atmosphere. They hug each other, help each other, nobody puts each other down. To see 70 kids in a room and they don’t fight, they all listen and do what they’re supposed to; is a wonderful thing.” Band members also learn to work as a team for a greater outcome. That’s a priceless lesson to learn at any age. For the students to continue having a beneficial band experience, however, the organization desperately needs money donations. “Our instruments are so old; some are duct-taped together,” Marlow said. “The sousaphones fall apart, some instruments look like they’ve been dragged across the parking lot. The school district gives a little under $400 total for band operations this year.” Hence Marlow’s constant push to fundraise for the band. Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman said the band’s financial allotment has been reduced “over the years” because of declining state funding. “We cut $5.75 million, over 10 percent of our budget, last year because of state cuts. The community participating in these band fundraisers is important,” Leaman said. “But fundraisers used to be for a trip to go to Southern California. Now, unfortunately, the fundraisers are for uniforms. That’s the state of education right now.” Today, nine of the 74 band members don’t have uniforms. And, Marlow projects, the band will increase to 90 members a year from now. “Our percussion crew has to wear dress black with blue vests because of the uniform shortage,” Marlow said. “Last year, we had just enough uniforms.” Marlow’s first priority as fundraising chairman is to immediately raise $10,000 for 30 uniforms (it takes a couple of months to get the uniforms, once ordered). During Family Night Out last month, the Rotary Club’s Joann Hilton told Marlow that the club would donate $1,500 for uniforms. That translates into five new uniforms and, once that donation is made, means $8,500 more in uniform fundraising must be collected. Donations to the band are quickly needed from other area organizations, businesses and residents. “The three band competitions cost $1,000 each to attend,” Marlow said. “One is in Loomis, one is in Stockton and one is in Folsom. That’s why we’re fundraising for everything.” Everyone can help, from residents donating what they can afford to City Council waiving rental fees of McBean Park Pavilion for the March 2 jazz/dinner dance. “The city wants $615 for the hall, $400 for security deposit, around $300 for insurance,” Marlow said. “Council said they would discuss it after the meeting. I haven’t heard back.” Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short said that waiving fees will be part of the city’s master fee schedule discussion at the Sept. 11 City Council meeting. “The entire City Council has to take this up in deliberation. I encourage all residents and members of the greater community to support the band at City Council and at their events,” Short said. “I believe they’re an important civic institution in Lincoln. I would hate to think of a community without a high school band. I support the Lincoln High Band and look forward to helping them in any way possible.” But Short is just one of five votes. It takes three City Council member votes to approve any fee waiver. The band’s students and parents aren’t looking for handouts. They’ve scheduled benefits and are selling Entertainment Guide coupon books to earn money for the organization. However, community members should donate to the Lincoln youth because they work hard. “They were there for the 4th of July parade; they were out there rehearsing two weeks before school from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon practicing marching, drills and field shows to be prepared for the school year,” Marlow said. During the school week, the band meets during first period. That doesn’t include band competitions held on Saturdays, football games, parades or band members’ practicing instruments at home. Being in the band is not a way to get an easy “A.” “The thing is you have to put in the time and dedication necessary,” said Kenny Marlow, who practices five days a week at home after school. “If you miss one football game (performing), that drops you an entire grade.” The Lincoln High senior said that band has been his favorite class every year at the high school. “Above all, it brings a sense of pride for the entire town,” Kenny Marlow said about the uniforms. “It’s cool when you march in a band and everyone cheers for you.” Let’s all help contribute, in whatever amount, for band uniforms. To help the band: Sept. 8: Lincoln High School Band pancake breakfast from 7-11 a.m. at Lincoln Veterans Memorial Hall, 541 5th St. $5. Info: for uniforms Sept. 15: Music in the Plaza band fundraiser at 5 p.m. at Beermann Plaza. Features Lincoln High School Jazz Band, Dudley and the Doo Rights, and The Road Crew. Food vendors onsite. Fundraiser for Lincoln High’s music program and sponsored by PALS and Friends of Lincoln Kids. Info: Ken Marlow at 521-5657. March 2: Inaugural jazz dinner dance. Includes performances by the Lincoln High School Jazz Band and a full-course dinner. Entertainment books: Call band director David Hill at 521-5657 to purchase a coupon book. For more information or to donate: Call Hill at 521-5657.