Football season wouldn’t be the same without high school marching bands dazzling fans at halftime.
The bands put in weeks of practice before the season even begins.
And just like the football teams, the bands and their booster clubs have fundraisers. They spend all year fundraising for the extra expenses that the Columbia County School System doesn’t cover.
“The county school system does well in funding all the different things we need to have to carry out our classroom activities,” said Brian Toney, director of Grovetown High School’s Band of Warriors. “Music, instruments, some of the different things we do.
“Some things we do aren’t deemed ‘curricular.’”
Most out-of-the-classroom activities are funded by the students or the band’s booster organization.
Travel to band competitions, uniforms, props and accessories for the halftime show, and trips are typically paid for by students and through fundraisers.
“Any time we go to a spring trip, it is funded fully by the students and their parents,” Toney said.
The students and band staff at each of the county’s five high school usually spend all year fundraising. Toney said his students run the concession stand at home football and soccer games, hold car washes and sell just about anything that can be profitable including cookie dough and poinsettias.
In an effort to raise the $60,000-$90,000 for uniforms, the band held the first Grovetown Warrior Invitational Marching Band Competition in October 2010, during the school’s second football season.
“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Toney said. “Uniforms are exceedingly expensive.”
The fourth annual competition and show will be all day on Oct. 19 at the school. It’ll feature performances from up to 12 bands from around the region.
The competition, which makes for a long day for Toney and the volunteer and student organizers, brings in between $4,000 and $7,000 in one day.
Some of those funds will be used to send the band on a spring trip to Disney World, where it will perform. Toney said the four-day, three-night trip comes with a $650 per student price tag.
Evans High Band Director Reid Hall said her students will pay about $750 to go to New York City in the spring.
Those students work hard all year selling fruit and Coca-Cola to pay for trips as well as other outside band activities.
Band boosters work at the visitors’ side concession stand at home varsity and JV football games.
“They can help themselves to be able to do some of these things,” Hall said.
Students also earn donations for the band by working at area events, Hall said.
Money raised through fundraising pays for specialists and clinicians and other special instructors Hall brings in to work with the students during preseason band camp and throughout the year.
That money also pays for band competitions, state evaluations and other learning opportunities.
“I feel like it’s important that I get people to come in at various times throughout the year to work with the students,” Hall said.
“That’s worth every penny.”
Hall said she tries to be a good steward of her budget, money provided by the school system and raised funds.
“I’m so tight I squeak when it comes to the funding that we use,” Hall said.
“You’re trying to get the most bang for your buck.”
Toney and Hall agree that they are always looking for creative new fundraisers like the Guess How Much the Band Weighs event the Evans band held a few years ago.
“It’s stuff all year long,” Hall said.