written by Jack West, summer intern for The Elba Clipper
The ever-encroaching start of the school year means that all kinds of high school extracurriculars are starting up—or in this case, tuning up. The Elba High School Marching Tiger Band has started its summer band camp for the upcoming 2019 season. The band members rehearse their music indoors in the afternoon and then have marching practice outside once the sun goes down. Returning band director Shaun Hammonds said that even though the band has a lot of young members this year, there is still a strong group of senior leaders. “This is a really, really young group,” Hammonds said. “We’ve got a lot of great seniors, we’ve got a big group of seniors that we’re going to lose, and they’re going to be a huge loss.” The nearly 20 seniors make up roughly one-fifth of the band this year, and many of them, like Miresa Harbuck, are section leaders. Harbuck is the flutes and clarinets section leader and has been in marching band since ninth grade. She said she considered joining two years earlier but hesitated. However, since joining four years ago, Harbuck said she’s glad she finally made the right decision. “You never really get tired of it,” Harbuck said. Another senior, Elizabeth Woodham, is the band’s drum major. Woodham has been in band since the fifth grade, and this will be her second year as the band’s drum major. “I love it,” Woodham said. “I just love doing it because it feels like you’re doing something worthwhile.” According to Woodham and Harbuck, the band has changed a lot in the years since they started marching. Harbuck said the band has grown in the last few years, and Woodham said the change was mostly due to Hammonds returning to the high school in 2016 and that graduating seniors are replaced with new seventh graders every year. “We’ve definitely gotten better since Hammonds got here, and we always have new talent coming in every year,” Woodham said. Hakeem Scott, an incoming seventh grader, is some of the new talent that Woodham was talking about. Scott played mellophone in fifth grade but has not played it much since then. He picked it back up this year because he heard about how much fun band was. “You get to go on fun trips, and you get to have fun with your friends,” Scott said. “If you’re just at home, there’s nothing to do.” Hammonds said these students, the ones who are young, new and excited, are the best ones to watch. “It’s always fun every year when you come in here and you start from the top—you start from the beginning,” he said. “It’s kind of fun seeing them grow, seeing them go from being rough on the field the first couple days of band camp to that finished product in October.” Overall, this will be Hammonds’ tenth year as the director of the Elba High School Marching Tiger Band and his fourth since his return to the school in 2016. The band itself is entering its 77th year, and Hammonds said that its long tradition is a major part of the band’s success. “This town has a proud, rich history,” he said. “The community loves the band. They love the school, and the band is a huge part as well as the athletics.” Both Hammonds and the students are looking forward to competing later in the year and performing at Universal Studios in Orlando.