SOFO marching band “bands” together to raise money following COVID

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Image used with permission from Cassidy Harrington

Band pride. South’s band takes pictures together outside with masks to follow guidelines. Even though COVID has affected them, our band stayed strong and connected through these times. “My favorite part of band is that it truly brings together a family more so than anything else I have ever done,” comments Sophomore Spandan Mondal.

Naisha Roy and Sayna Kaushik

The South Forsyth High School Band program is working hard on raising money following the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic resulted in large budget cuts and sponsorship losses for programs around the nation. Regardless, our band is persevering by holding a virtual fundraiser where parents and supporters can donate to help improve and sustain this program which has become home to 9 different ensembles and hundreds of students. 

Supporting South. The SFHS band needs our community to step up and help them not only reach but exceed the fundraising goal they set. The fundraiser ends on November 24th, and every donation, no matter how big or small, matters. ''We live in a world where a tuba costs $8,000,'' Mr. Hendricks explained. ''And that's just for one student- we have 150.'' Video Used from SFHS Band donation page.

Developing Lifelong Excellence in Young People Through a Variety of Music Education Experiences”

— SFHS Band Mission Statement

The donation page discusses the benefits of participating in band and the effects of COVID-19 on the program, stating, “Band positively impacts the lives of all of our students. These kids live for every opportunity to perform. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has affected band programs across the country in a major way. Our band is no exception…. We need your help.” 

Georgia’s educational leaders expected a 14% budget cut at the start of the 20-21 school year according to NPR. This affects extracurricular activities and electives such as band, even though Forsyth County Schools is doing their level best to cushion and minimize the impact this has on every program at South. Mr. Hendricks, South’s band director, explained that we have “very supportive administrators,” but that the band program is one of the hardest things to support financially, and sometimes they need other avenues to supplement the funds.

The South Forsyth Band Website details all of the budgeting the band does, and it is clear that, although expensive, the marching band is one of the most beneficial parts of South’s community. According to the website, band can provide several values for its members, such as “developing self-esteem through self-expression, learning the value of community, and working hard and persevering.” In addition, music instruction programs such as band have shown to accelerate brain development in children and improve the auditory pathway in the brain. Combined with these mental benefits, the program also gives a very large portion of South’s students a place to call home and familiar faces to return to every year, creating one of the most valuable communities here.

A talented community. South Forsyth's band boasts over 150 members, and each one of them contributes to the wonderful program in their own way. They practice almost daily and perform without hesitation at every football game we have. ''Getting to perform every week, a couple of times a week, feels awesome,'' says Mr. Hendricks. ''It certainly reminds you of how much you took for granted in the beginning.'' Video used from SFHS band website.

“Band has given me a lot of confidence I wouldn’t have developed without performing and the support of my band family,” says junior Cassidy Harrington.

It’s clear that members from South’s community see this value too because donations and well wishes filled the band page after the fundraiser starter. The band had a goal of 19,000 dollars to raise, and as of November 10th, they were only 15 dollars short of that goal. Every band student had an individual page on the fundraiser with their personal goal, and all of these fell under the umbrella of the large group fundraiser. Under the fundraiser page, parents flooded the comments with positive notes commending South’s students on their dedication as well as sharing all of the wonderful things band has helped their kids achieve.

Mr. Hendricks discussed what it felt like to receive so much support from South’s community following the fundraiser.

“This has been one of the best fundraisers we’ve had since being here […] It’s probably going to be something we look at doing again in the future,” he mentioned. “What it lets me know is that our kids love band, and the people that support our kids, support them doing band. It really opens your eyes to the numbers of supporters you have.” Listen to the full interview:

They’re great kids, this is a great job, and [band] is an amazing opportunity.”

— Stephen Hendricks, Band Director

Junior Alex Van Alstyne said, “Everyone in the band is really appreciative to every single donation we get, no matter how small… I am extremely thankful to be able to have these experiences, and these donations will allow the band program to continue providing students with these experiences.”

South’s band has also earned several awards and accolades for the school. They’ve been named Grand Champions at both the Lake Hartwell Marching Band Competition as well as the White Columns Invitational. Members of SFHS band have also won awards at District Honor Band and All-State Band.  Not only is the band program at South enriching, but it is also extremely successful.

Many students decided to take part in the fundraiser to help their band team thrive. Van Alstyne spoke about why he took part in raising money for the band, “I decided to be a part of the SFHS band program because playing and learning music is one of my passions, and being in a band allows me to grow and explore that passion.” 

If parents or students can’t donate through the fundraiser, Mr. Hendricks described several other ways to support the band. Going to the football games, clicking on their website, following them on twitter, or even just sharing the link to the fundraiser are great ways to support the program. (Talk about what to hyperlink and when)