Day 20: Oklahoma Skies

One of the things I love best about Oklahoma is our skies. We have some of the most breathtaking sunrises (when I’m actually up to see them), sunsets and clouds in the atmosphere. Our skies are one of my favorite subjects to shoot.

Day 20: Oklahoma Skies


While I always thought that there were days that the sky was rather lovely, I never fully appreciated them until I started looking at them from behind the lens, trying to capture the color and cloud formations, the sun at various positions during the day and evening, and there have been times it has been some of my biggest challenge to try to catch with the camera what my eye was seeing.

As I am by no means a morning person, I am apt to capture sunsets in more abundance that I am a sunrise. My most memorable sunrise was on a hiking trip my husband and I took to Greenleaf State Park. We got up well before dawn and made it out to the trails with the hopes of getting to the swinging bridge before sunrise. While we did indeed make it, the location we were at as the sun actually rose was not a good location to capture the rise. It did however allow me to get some lovely shots of the fog across the lake

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We often find ourselves wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life and tend to forget to look at the simplistic beauty around us. Health for our heart that is free of charge. Uplifting for our spirit and doesn’t take any extra time, other than to look up. The skies are filled with wonder. Take some time today and look up and see the beauty that is above you.

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2011 Boot…I Mean BAND Camp

We have an amazing band director.  We hear a lot, “He’s doing an awesome job with those kids.”  But I personally think that sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to have Adam Steuart working with our kids.  He doesn’t fit the mold of your every day bad director.  It’s funny that I’m fixing to use this next phrase, because he’s a huge Star Trek fan.  He’s wanting, ready and willing to take these kids where “no band has gone before.”  He has a passion for making these kids into the best marching band that they can be, and nothing but being superior will do.  Not for him…..for THEM.  And he will use any tool that he can to drive them to excellence.

This year’s boot…I mean Band Camp has been AMAZING!!  We have been very blessed to have some incredible people come and instruct our students in marching fundamentals, musical technique, and drum line fundamentals and cadences.  When I was getting pictures and video while these men and women were teaching, I was just in awe.  They are truly artists at their crafts and it has been an honor for them to come and work this week.  I know this feeling is echoed by the band.

Working with the kids this year were: 

  • Fairview, OK band director Adrian Gomez, who was also a trumpet specialist for Crossman drum and bugle corps and was part of Phantom regiment drum and bugle corps 
  • Sarah Gomez, wife of Adrian, who is a woodwind and color guard specialist
  • Super amazing drum line instructor, Patrick McClung
  • Richard Stalcup, Assistant director for the Chisholm Stampede and trombone specialist
  • Color Guard instructor that goes above and beyond for her group of girls, Nicole Steuart

One of the biggest parts of camp is marching fundamentals.  Mr. Gomez really helped our kids improve their marching techniques, their horn carriage, and their postures while on the field.  While in the band room during the extremely hot part of the day, he helped them hone in on their playing techniques and their musical precision.  When the kids broke into sectionals, Mr. Gomez and Mr. Stalcup both worked with the trumpets and low brass, Patrick worked with the drum line, Mrs Gomez worked with the woodwinds and Nicole the color guard.  It was during these times that each section got some wonderful one on one with people at the top of the game.  It wasn’t just about working on the marching music.  It was about breathing technique, musical precision and fundamentals, about how to properly hold and play the drum sticks or mallets.

I want to stop right here and talk about the drum line for just a minute.  This line has gone through a huge change from last year to this year.  Last year’s snare drummer is now drum major.  One of the bass drummers from last year is now on snare.  We have 2 brand new bass drummers, and one of them played flute last year.  We also have 2 new cymbal players.  Patrick started working with them last Friday.  These kids have had 1 day off this week and have put in some major work and are doing an incredible job.  This is a direct reflection on the man working with them.  He drives them, encourages them, refuses to let them give up or give less than what he knows they are able to give, and then he pushes them to give more.  Not only has he worked with our drum line, he also worked with the Chisholm drum line as well.  I am so excited for everyone to hear this new drum line ROCK the stands this year.  I know they are going to make their coach very, VERY proud.

Our color guard line has 3 new members as well, and they too have been putting in a lot of hard work as they started last Friday.  Just as all the other instructors are amazing at what they do, Nicole is no exception.  She will not settle for less than awesome with these girls and pushes them just as the band is being pushed.  If you have never been a member of color guard, let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks.  The angles of the flags as you are doing ANY move has to be precise, or everyone knows you’re off.  It’s not just teaching choreography to the girls and being done.  It’s a constant, ongoing work to make sure they hit every time, because if one person is a fraction off, the world knows.  Nicole amazes me, because she is gentle when she needs to be and firm when time calls for it, and she knows which she needs to be to get the results.

So, this brings me back to Mr. Steuart.  The past 2 years were awesome, they were fun and they have given a foundation for this band to grow.  I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this year’s theme is “Super Heroes”.  This year’s band has a different feel, a different tone and is pushing boundaries they have never tried to cross before.  This is because of Mr. Steuart and his dedication, his drive, his passion for not just band, but for turning the students into the best marching musicians this state has to offer.  He’s not willing to stay in the box and just settle for what they think is their best.  He has a vision for this band program that extends beyond what any of us were thinking, and I for one am excited and SO ON BOARD with his vision.  I keep thinking of the movie “Drum Line”.  I see our kids at that level under his direction.  I see this program growing each year under his leadership.  I see The Pride of Hennessey becoming one of the biggest band names in the state of Oklahoma because of his not willing to compromise, sacrifice or become stagnant by staying in the box.  And you know where it starts???

BAND CAMP!!!!

 

Pride Starts Here

It has been an amazing roller coaster of a week.  Monday – Thursday we held our first annual Pride of Hennessey Mini Band Camp for students pre-k – 7th grade.  What an amazing experience and I believe that I can say that from the perspective of the adults and high school kids who worked the camp, as well as the campers themselves.

The campers got to experience several different aspects of being in marching band.  They learned to words to the school fight song and alma mater,  mini flags, baton, drums, marching and marching commands, as well as playing music related games.  Every time that Drum Major Cody Riggs or Band Director Mr. Steuart would yell out “Band, ATTENTION!”  “PRIDE” rang out from every student in the building and everyone down to the littlest pre-k girl came to attention.

In the midst of all of the fun that we were having, disaster struck our state when several deadly tornadoes ravaged the Sooner State.  Showing Hennessey Pride, the students brought different needed items to band camp on it’s final day to be loaded in the band trailer, which we took to Piedmont, OK to help with disaster relief.

I can not even begin to describe the horrific sight we saw as we drove down the north side of Piedmont road.  A sobering hush came over the entire car as we all looked out over what used to be peoples homes.  It really struck home how fragile life really is, how blessed we are to draw every breath we take and how there is nothing more important than caring for our fellow human beings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this week may have brought out the worst in Mother Nature, it brought out the best in our community and in our kids.  It truly was an incredible week.  I am really looking forward to next year’s camp because I just know that it is going to be bigger and better than we can even hope to imagine.  To all of our parents who helped all this week, thank you so very much!!  To our high school band helpers, you guys did a great job and were excellent role models for the younger kids.  To our campers, YOU are the Pride.  YOU are where it starts, and YOU were A-MA-ZING all this week!!!!