Moms, dads march alongside kids' school bands - East Valley Tribune: News

Moms, dads march alongside kids' school bands

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Posted: Sunday, September 7, 2008 7:27 pm | Updated: 11:03 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

As tweens turn into teens and their interests take them away from home, their interactions with mom and dad may wane, conversations may become one-sided.

But a group of parents have found a way to connect with their high school kids, and in turn, make memories with them instead of sitting on the sidelines.

They are the band boosters.

Across the East Valley, high school football season is under way. During each halftime, marching bands deliver polished performances.

But it takes a flurry of activity the week prior to make it happen. The musicians and color guard attend rehearsal after rehearsal, some as early as 6 a.m. Instruments must be repaired. Uniform pieces must be found.

Maureen "Moe" Allison is vice president of the band boosters at Gilbert's Highland High School. She helps lead volunteers who organize stadium seating at games, recruit chaperones and clean up afterward. Allison signed up when her son, Jay, a sophomore, joined the drum line last year.

"I'm in it for the memories and the fun," Allison said. "It's going to fly by so fast. You're going to say, 'Why didn't I become more involved?'"

Band boosters do everything from setting up fundraisers to making travel plans to ordering T-shirts.

And that's during daytime hours.

On game days, band boosters repair uniforms, deliver water to thirsty musicians and move percussion instruments on and off the field.

The involved parents have the benefit of knowing where their children are most hours of the day.

"After school you always know where to find them because they're in the band room. They're in the band room during lunch. It's a wonderful band family," said Susan Stephensen, president of the marching band boosters at Mesa's Mountain View High School.

Her daughters, Emily, 15 and a sophomore, is a percussionist, and Megan, 17 and a senior, is the drum major. Stephensen's participation started small, but quickly became a big part of her life.

"It is really consuming," she said. "Believe it or not, I think I spend more time doing things for the band than I do with my real job."

Tracey Sweeney, a band booster at Chandler's Basha High School, says activities don't end when football does. Marching season turns into concert season, and many bands travel in the spring.

Sweeney said she got involved when she saw how much fundraising was needed.

"I found out the band program has to earn a lot of their money to pay for their operation costs," she said. "So I started to come up with new ways to raise money."

Sweeney said she likes that she's supporting her son, Sean, 16, and she gets the perks of seeing him more.

And Sean, a junior, doesn't mind having mom around so much.

"It just encourages me to just be more involved with more aspects of the band," he said. "She's done a lot of good things for the band as well, gotten a lot of different resources we would not have had."

Percussionist Matt Lenz, 17, a senior at Scottsdale's Saguaro High School, said having his mom, Debbie, involved in band adds to their relationship. Debbie Lenz is president of the school's band boosters.

"We've always gotten along great. Band has just given her more insight into what I think about more. We have more to talk about," Matt Lenz said. "We can talk about what's happening in my life and why it's so hectic."

That's exactly why Debbie Lenz volunteered.

"It was mainly the kids and being able to do something to support them," she said. Her daughter, Adrianna, 14 and a freshman, also is on the percussion line.

"It's a neat way to work with the kids on something that will further their education as well as be fun. And who doesn't like listening to them at their football games and competitions?" Lenz said.

Mary Loomis is a fifth-year booster at Ahwatukee Foothills' Mountain Pointe High School in the Tempe Union High School District. Her oldest son graduated last year and her 15-year-old son, Marcus, is a percussionist.

She said the boosters strive to raise thousands of dollars a year to offset the costs of travel, new equipment, music and big instruments.

"For me, it's important I'm involved with their lives so they know how much I value what they're doing," she said. "It shows them I respect them as individuals and helps them to stay out of trouble."

Maureen Allison's son, Jay, said having mom and dad around and available makes his "crazy" schedule a bit easier. Some days start early with rehearsals, then school, private lessons and marching practice.

"Now that my parents are involved with me they help me manage my time better," he said. "They can help me get up to get my homework done in the morning. It's nice they know what I'm going through."

It's nice for the band directors, too, who can leave the details to the boosters and turn their attention to teaching music to students.

"They help chaperone. They haul equipment all year long. They're a great support mechanism for not only myself, but for the students and the program," said Michael Miller, director of bands at Saguaro.

Kevin Bennett, Highland's director of bands, added: "The parents are there to help the band director create a positive and rewarding atmosphere for the students so the kids are successful and achieve great things.

"The kids like having the parents there. It's like having a mom or dad on the field."

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