“It was an incredible experience,” said Emerson Witherspoon, an 8th-grade percussionist with the Cain Middle School band program. “I had no idea how much fun high school marching band could be.”
As the Mighty Hawk Marching Band of Rockwall-Heath High School danced and played in the stands this past Friday night, there was a handful of purple t-shirts mixed in, dancing and cheering along.
Those purple shirts included 8th-grade members of the Cain Middle School band. Thanks to a special invitation from Ben Sumrak, head band director of the Rockwall-Heath High School, 50 students participated in a special preview experience with the high school band.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for 8th graders to experience high school band before they become freshman,” said Trevor Ousey, director of bands at Cain Middle School. “They get a chance to ask questions and hopefully put at ease some of their fears and trepidations about high school band.”
The students performed stand tunes with the marching band, including classics like Louie, Louie, and Land of 1000 Dances. They also played the RHHS fight song and Alma Mater.
“Some of the high school students were weird,” said Mandalyn Middlebrook. “It was crazy! The dancing, the jokes…I had so much unexpected fun.”
Prior to the game, Mr. Sumrak gave a special presentation to the 8th-graders, which included a point-of-view video of the band, and a demonstration on how easy it is to march.
“Go ahead and stand on that mark,” Ben said to Wesley Cappelucci, an 8th-grade trumpet player. “Now, walk from there to this music stand in 12 counts.” Wesley successfully completed the task, and the other students cheered. “That is how easy marching band can be,” said Ben.
At half time, the 8th-graders moved to the top of the stadium and watched in awe as the Mighty Hawk band performed the halftime show. They pointed and took pictures of the band, posting on social media and sending them to friends outside the band.
“I am excited for next year,” said Mathew Mazraani, an 8th-grade trombone player. “I cannot wait to be a part of the high school band.”
“I especially want to thank Ben and the Rockwall-Heath band staff,” said Mr. Ousey. “I also want to thank the Heath band boosters for feeding us before the game. This is such a supportive environment, and I am glad the kids got to experience a small taste of high school band.”