Confessions of a Senior Mom Part 3

We are closing in the the end of football, thus the end of marching season.  There are 2 games left, and it depends on the outcome of this Saturday’s game if they will get to perform that final game at Stillwater on December 1oth.  It’s hard to look at these different moments of finality, and they seem to be piling up faster than ever.

The Pride of Hennessey has 4 amazing seniors whose high school marching careers are coming to an end.  They have been a part of one of the most incredible and memorable marching seasons ever!  Along with their band mates, they have experienced heartache and great triumph.  More importantly, they have experienced a band family who is more than a band, they are a family.  I can’t really put into words how proud of these seniors I am, or the love I have for mine.  But I do know this, as this chapter of their lives comes to a close, as long as they believe in themselves and work at making their dreams come true, nothing in this world will stop them.



Can’t We All Just Get Along?

For years I have wondered why there is such a rift in schools concerning sports and arts programs.  Why there is always an us versus them mentality.  Both programs are dedicated to what they do.  Both put in long hours of practice and dedication so that they can be the very best that they can be.  So why is it that sports programs are always revered regardless the outcome of their season, and the arts….well, even when they win a championship hardly gets any recognition.  

Before I go any further I want it understood that I am very proud of the kids who are in sports.  They push themselves very hard and are worthy of the praise that they receive.  I wouldn’t take that away from them for anything in the world.  THEY WORKED FOR IT.  That being said, I think the same of our band kids. 

The general public does not know the hours and work that these kids have put in.  They give up the final week of July for band camp to start working on their show.  They show up for early band starting the second day of school through the end of marching season at 7:15am.  Before marching season starts, they put in practices that are three to four hours long, three nights a week. The drum line and color guard have mandatory sectionals 2 nights a week on top of that, and the other instruments have one.  In support of the football team, the band plays morning walk throughs at the schools and plays at pep rallies to pump the students up for the game.  They show up at 5:30pm on the nights of home football games, march to those games and then play EVERY QUARTER and march the half time show, helping to rally the crowd and cheer on our team to victory.  They travel to every away game, repeating that, giving their unending support for the Eagles.  THEY TAKE NO TIME OFF DURING THE GAMES…PERIOD.   Almost every Saturday after a game, home or away starting in September, the band then rises and heads out to their own competitions, many times before the sun is even close to rising.  THIS is the work and dedication that these kids have.  Besides this, many of them are in softball or volley ball, have jobs, piano lessons, and let’s not forget about homework.

So let’s take a moment to talk about what The Pride of Hennessey has done this year.

  • Perry Parade – 3rd Place
  • OKC State Fair Parade- Color Guard 2nd Place
  • Putnam City Field- 10th Place
  • Konawa Band Day Parade- 3rd place (outstanding)
  •                                                   Outstanding Coor Guard
  • Konawa field show- class 3a – 1st place
  • Tri-State Field competition- superior rating
  • Regional Field- superior rating
  • Lawton Superior Field – Class 3a 2nd place
  •                                                                                                                                                        High Visual
  •                                                                                                                                                         High Effect

I am having a hard time understanding why it is so important to some to say that the Pride’s OBA Championship isn’t a “REAL” Championship.  They competed against bands in their class and beat them.  They received medals and a trophy which says ‘CLASS 2A CHAMPIONS”.  I have patches from the event that say 2011 OBA Championships.  I don’t understand why these 35 kids were not recognized by the school for their accomplishment.  Why because it’s not an OSSAA Championship, which there isn’t one for band, it doesn’t count.  WHY would you try to downplay what these kids have accomplished instead of being proud of them and what to shout from the rooftops, “Not only do we have a championship football team and cross country team, our band are champions too!  Can your schools say that?”  I don’t get it!  But even more, I don’t want to have to look into these children’s eyes and see that hurt and confusion as to why they still aren’t good enough to be recognized for their hard work.  To wonder why they aren’t “shown off” during a pep rally or assembly.  As a parent, I am more than upset that because the impression given off is that because this isn’t an athletic club, their accomplishments just don’t mean as much and just aren’t as important.  That, “Oh, it’s just the band…no big deal.”  IT IS A BIG DEAL!!  And these kids are worthy of being noticed of their accomplishments by the students and by the administration.  Representative Mike Sanders agreed it’s a big deal and sent out a congratulations to the band in the form of a citation. 

I have 3 boys who are State Champions.  You can say all you want that it’s not real, but you know what?  You’d be wrong.  I watched them fight for that championship title.  I watched them EARN that championship title and I will continue to tell them, along with every other student in the band program, YOU ARE A STATE CHAMPION.  I see it this way, those who currently do not look at them as such, you can continue to hurt these kids and make them feel less than OR you can claim them as another feather in Hennessey’s cap, which only makes our school and our town more proud than ever.

A Strong Heartbeat

To perform to the best of ones ability, they must have a strong heart with a steady heartbeat.  Likewise, in order to have a complete sound, a band must have a strong drum line, for without that, a band is looking at flat-lining with their performance.

The 2011 drum line is a young, fairly inexperienced line, composed of only three veteran members, Danielle Vogt, Kalie Choate and Halee Garner.  They were joined this season by Bricelyn McCreary, Bailey Wilcox, Josh Hill, Caanan Thompson and flute player Tristan Cross.  While this group may not have picked up their equipment as an accomplished line, they had dedicated help from director Adam Steuart, who is a savvy drummer himself, as well as drum tech Patrick McClung, who spent countless hours this summer and fall working with, driving and molding this young line in a strong heartbeat for The Pride.

The drum line started this year’s journey the weekend before full band camp back in July.

Working alongside the Chisholm Stampede drum line, they were put through the paces by Patrick, learning different warm-up exercises, how to play tonal bass drums, new cadences, as well as the new marching music and marching with their instruments.  They built their physical strength with push-ups, learned that marching “isn’t tether ball” (a Patrickism that you really had to be there to appreciate), and throughout the week of band camp began to gel as a unit working towards being that strong heartbeat.

The drum line’s job isn’t just to keep the beat for the rest of the band while on the field or during a parade.  They are also a key and major factor in the stands while supporting the Hennessey football team.  All four quarters, the drum line pound out cadence after cadence helping keep the crowd pumped up the entire game as well as playing their hearts out during the pep band selections.  When you look to the top of the band section of the football stands, you will find eight dedicated students providing not just the heartbeat for the band, but for the crowd as well.  All of this and more is what makes this energetic and dedicated line the Mama Cross section of the week.

Picking up a drum and learning how to play isn’t easy, but to pick up a drum after four years of playing flute is a huge jump across the orchestra pit.  As the only flute player in the marching band, Tristan Cross made the transition to the small bass drum, joining the drum line this year, stepping up and showing that he’s not just a woodwind player, but a percussionist as well, and is this week’s featured student.

Tristan, also known as Twineth, Trenden, Twin, and sometimes Thing 1 by his older brother is part of a matched set.  Tristan was born 1 minute before his twin brother Brenden who plays trombone and is a freshman.  His favorite colors are green and blue, loves to eat turkey, Christian music and his favorite movie is Sinbad.  Being an individual who thinks outside the box, Tristan is a true Whovian, making it no surprise that his favorite TV show is Doctor Who. His reading tastes are also a bit more eclectic as well and lists “The Looking Glass Wars”, “Seeing Red”, and “Arch Enemy” as his favorites.  While not an all around sports fan, Tristan is a fan of his Hennessey Eagles.

Tristan is truly one of the kindest, most generous teenagers I have ever met, and I do not say that because he is my son.  I say that because as I have watched him as he has grown he has always shown kindness to everyone he comes in contact with, believes the best in everyone until given a reason not to and doesn’t care about cliques, what your social status is, or what you really think of him.  He is an open and honest individual which is why he is highly thought of by so many.  This is made more evident by his favorite quote.  “Watch your thoughts, they become words.  Watch your words, they become actions.  Watch your actions, they become character.  Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”  His role model is his grandmother and says of her, “She is a hard working, kind person.  She is a nurse and will help anybody in need.  Every year I show her my appreciation by helping clean her house.  She also makes good food that is nutritious and tastes good.”

Being an artistic person, Tristan loves band, knowing that it is hard work and requires lots of practice and that when you are at a competition, even if you are out of school, it is still a school event and that you have to follow the school rules and be polite, because you are representing not just your band, but your school and your town.  Next to band, he has a passion for photography and is very talented at capturing photos, getting his hands on a camera whenever he has the opportunity.

Tristan’s goals are to make straight A’s throughout high school and become valedictorian.  After graduation he wants to attend a collage with a strong photography program and open his own photography business, not just settling for being a local photographer, but to excel at the professional level, taking famous and renown photos.  He also plans to receive culinary training as he has apassion for food and cooking and wants to be a part time chef.

To be a successful unit, you have to work together as a single entity.  This young drum line is well on it’s way to reaching that success.  Mr. Steuart and Patrick have taken eight single pieces and have started fitting them together to make that unit.  A unit that beats in harmony with each other, providing the band with that strong, solid heartbeat.  Keeping the beat alive, providing a foundation, and giving a steady rhythm for all who hear them to know, they are the drum line.  They are the heart beat and they help provide vital life to the band.

The Closing of the Curtain

It’s hard to believe that another marching season is in the books.  It seems like we just got started and now, all that’s left is to finish marching the half time show of the final football games, and to hit Tri-State this spring with the final pep band and parade competition of the school year.  In looking back over the season, I can honestly say that I feel nothing but extreme pride in our little band.  They came, they marched, they conquered.  At the contests that they didn’t seem to measure up, they still kept their heads up, knowing that they are “The Pride of Hennessey” and they can not be kept down.

Last week saw the final field competition of 2011-2012, in Lawton.  After receiving a superior at Alva, the Pride had the honor of marching in the “Superior Class” instead of the “Open Class” and took 2nd place in class 3A.  The color guard participated in solo and ensemble competition in which they received a 2 (excellent) on their ensemble.  Melodi received a 2 on her solo, and Vanise, Pixie, Erica and Bradi all received 1’s on theirs.  It was a good day in spite of strong winds and mishaps here and there, and was a good way to close the curtain on the season.

But while one curtain closes, another one begins to rise.  Now it is time for the Pride to look towards concert season, as well as different honor bands and solo and ensemble competitions.  Veteran’s Day, Red Carpet Honor Band, All Area Honor Band, Christmas Parades and the Christmas Concert are all just around the bend….a very close bend as they will start this leg of their journey next week.

Some would say that success is determined by the number of trophies brought home.  I say that success is summed up by the determination, drive and never say die attitude that this band…..the 2011 Pride of Hennessey Marching Band has shown this year.  They have set a standard for future bands to strive for and surpass.  That it’s not about winning every competition, but about how you walk off the field or the street no matter what the outcome.  This is a successful band.  Not because they are state champions.  Not because they added several trophies to their trophy case.  But because they decided in their hearts and minds as individuals and as a team that they are the definition of success.  They are The Pride of Hennessey!


Confessions Of a Senior Mom Part 2

The past couple of weeks have been a bit difficult for me.  But before I get into it, I do want to say that while I am mourning the fact that my oldest son is no longer that little boy that I miss holding in my arms, I am very proud of the man he is becoming and I am enjoying spending time with him and knowing him on an adult level.  Every phase of his life has been a joy.  That being said, it doesn’t make it any easier that he is graduating and heading off to college next fall.

Last weekend, we took Matthias out to Goodwell, Oklahoma to Oklahoma Panhandle State University for their college preview day.  We got a great tour of the campus, had lunch, stayed for part of the football game and found out all the valuable information that we need to get him ready for next fall.  It was a very bittersweet day, but one that I will cherish forever.  It was a day that my husband and I went with our son, spent the day with just him, talking about his hopes and dreams, his desires and goals, helping him bridge that gap between the final stage of his childhood and the first step of his adulthood.  It always brings joy to a parents heart to see their child with such drive, determination and excitement, and it inspires the parent to push even harder to help that child see their dreams come true.

Time has never felt as fast to me as it has this year.  Thanksgiving is almost upon us and Father Time keeps sending me that continual message that I only have one semester left before he’s out into the world.

This last Friday was Senior Night and the last home football game of the regular season.  The last “Lights Out” show that my son would perform with The Pride of Hennessey.  Earlier that week, it was the final field marching competition of his high school career.  We are rapidly adding more and more “lasts” to the list.

Standing out on the field with him, as his accomplishments and future plans were announced over the loud speaker, to hear the band cheer furiously for him, to see my mother watch with pride in her eyes as he stood before the crowd brought back memories from 20 years ago when I stood on Fairview’s field with my mother.  I understand what she felt then.  Extreme pride, extreme sadness and joy all at the same time.  It was a very surreal moment in time.

As hard as it is to watch your children grow up, it is so very rewarding as well.  My heart sings at the young man Matthias has become.  One that I know is going to live life to the fullest and chase down every dream and turn them into reality.  He is my shining star, has been from the first time I looked into his eyes almost 19 years ago.

When I was a kid, 12 was my lucky number.  It was the number of my basketball uniform when I was in Jr High and now it is part of the number of my first born son’s graduating year.  It will also be the age that my youngest son turns this coming December. (the 12th month) 😉

Life is a journey and sometimes part of that journey if filled with difficult moments, heartbreak and sorrow.  Sometimes it’s filled with joy, excitement and adventure.  Then there are times when the two are intermingled.  This entire year is one of conflicting emotions for me.  It doesn’t mean that I am not happy for my son, because it’s quite the opposite.  Sometimes, I wish he could be like one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys and never grow up, while another part of me enjoys the company of the young man that stands before me.  He is still my shining star and I know he is going to shine bright and make many of his own wishes, and mine come true.

Haromny in Diversity

Before I started band in the 5th grade, I knew that I was going to be a woodwind player.  I knew exactly which woodwind that I would play.  I fell in love with the saxophone and no one was going to change my mind about it.  The woodwinds are made up of such a diverse group of instruments.  The flute and piccolo, the clarinets along with their alto and bass counterparts, the bassoon and oboe, which are double reed horns and not easy to play and your variety of saxophones, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone.  In my career, I played both alto and tenor and loved them both.


This week’s Mama Cross section of the week is built from two of these unique instruments, the clarinets and the alto saxophones.  The Pride of Hennessey has three awesome alto sax players in Matthias Cross, Danny Pacula and Malina Lemmons.  Matthias and Danny, both being seniors this year, are defiantly closing out their final high school year on a high, being part of an incredible and unique group of not just woodwinds, but students that make up the entire band.  The Pride can also brag about having an extremely strong clarinet line this year, made up of Kyla Hobson, Becca Hill, Kaylee Ellison, Amber Pacula, Lacy Tarrant, and Makayah Pearson.  These nine students have laid a strong support and melodic atmosphere to the band’s sound.  Having this many strong instrumentalists in a section makes it hard to focus on just one to highlight, but this week’s featured woodwind is without a doubt a strong leader, and always has an upbeat and fun outlook.  Clarinet player Kyla Hobson aka Mega Sparkles.

Kyla is a freshman this year whose favorite colors include lime green and royal blue.  Her favorite food is her mother’s home made chicken and noodles.  She loves country music and hip hop and the movie “Paul”.  More of her personal faves include the book “Unwind”, the number 21 and her Hennessey Eagles and OSU Cowboys.  A few of her best friends are Malina (Super Sour), Shelby (Super Ninja) and Kalie Choate (Blue C), but from what I have observed, she is friends with everyone and has one of the sweetest dispositions in a person, always smiling and encouraging those around her.  Her favorite holiday is Halloween because she loves to go the band Halloween party at Zombie House.

Kyla is a true musician who excels not just in band, but in piano as well.  Regarding band, she believes that it is not a class that you join for just an easy grade.  You work hard to be the best you can be.  Due to the Pride’s dedication, she has had people tell her that the band kids have “so much motivation and determination in what they do and can see this band going places and reaching goals”.  Band has help to show her what leadership looks like and has inspired her to show leadership as well.  When she switches gears to piano, it’s not a major switch as piano takes a lot of work, concentration and hand eye coordination.  Every Wednesday finds her at piano lessons and it frustrates her when people try to tell her that piano is easy.  In her journey through piano she has discovered that it “makes her feel good inside and that she knows she is doing it for her and not to please anyone else”.  Her dedication to piano is a true testament to the type of person she is, because she finds ways to motivate herself to practice in the midst of weekday softball practice, evening band rehearsals, piano practice on Wednesdays and football games on Fridays.  Throw in competitions, homework and time with family and friends, this shows how dedicated this 14 year old is to everything she is involved in.

While already an inspiration herself, encouraging people to never quit and always try their hardest,  Kyla draws from inspiration from her family as they keep her going through the hard times and will always be there to pick her up when she falls.  Her role model is her mother Holly, how has shown her that life isn’t easy, but sometimes you have to take those challenges and turn them into something better.  She is also very thankful for the Pride of Hennessey’s directors, Adam Steuart, Nicole Steuart, Bradley Gilbert and Patrick McClung who have taken a band of 15 and grown in to 35 in just 3 short years, always driving the students to get stronger and stronger, helping them to achieve becoming OBA Class 2A State Champions this year.  Her favorite quotes include:

“If you don’t believe in your section, they won’t believe in themselves.”

“The first two quarters of the football game are just the entertainment before the half time show.”

“Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footsteps on the moon.”  – This is a quote that I know Kyla will tune her life to, one that will continue to help define who she is now, and who she will become.  A young woman who is always reaching, striving and continuing to make the best out her life and the situations that life throws at her, as well as helping others to reach and strive for greatness in their own lives.  She is without a doubt an inspiration to me and worthy of all magnificence that comes her way.  She is a person who will continue to bring harmony in a diverse world.