By Logan Lawson
NORFOLK - This time of year, the average student is usually taking advantage of the summer by sleeping in, playing baseball or softball and possibly making some money at their summer job. However, a select few students from Neligh-Oakdale’s band are braving the heat to put on one more grand performance.
Twelve Neligh-Oakdale students were selected to participate in the 2016 Northeast Nebraska All-Star Band. The band is comprised of more than 50 of the top band students from schools around Northeast Nebraska. They have been practicing all week in preparation for Saturday’s Northeast Nebraska All-Star Football Game in which they will provide the halftime entertainment for the fans. T
he group, led by area band directors, began practicing Tuesday at Norfolk High School and has been working hard all week to provide a great show.
“We are shoving three months of curriculum that we would normally have in a school setting in to five days,” Samantha Hahn, Norfolk Catholic Band director and the primary organizer of the event, explained. “It’s a lot of things happening in a very short amount of time.”
The students are nominated to participate in the event by their own director, according to Neligh-Oakdale band director Nate Metschke.
“You want to nominate students you would like to spend a week with, first off,” he explained. “Secondly, I like to nominate the kids who are really good players and have high character.”
While many students admit that the high intensity of the week brings with it many challenges, including the high temperatures and learning how to march with kids from different schools, they also admit that they greatly enjoy the experience. The opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and perform differently then what they are used to is exciting for the participants.
“I did a little bit of field marching my freshman year and I always liked it, so I’m kind of excited to do it again,” said Alexis Jensen, a Neligh-Oakdale senior-to-be.
With the students practicing from 1 p.m. to until nearly 9 p.m. each day and with temperatures surging higher than 90 degrees, keeping the students safe and happy has been key. Directors have made sure to give the band members breaks often when they are working outside.
They also spend much of their time not carrying their instruments to help reduce the workload of the students as they learn the formations for the halftime show. Metschke has also made a point of rewarding his students at the end of each day.
“I make sure to get them ice cream every night on the way home,” he admitted.
This year’s show is a patriotic theme. It will consist of two medleys, a service set to honor the veterans and will conclude with the song “No Place Like Nebraska.” Jayda Chance, a senior-to-be at Neligh-Oakdale, is looking forward to playing the enduring music.
“My mom’s going to be there, so I hope I do good then and I like watching the football,” she said. ”But I’ll be glad to honor all the veterans that fought for us.”
Marching with Jensen and Chance from Neligh-Oakdale are Sierra Centamore, Andrew Sanderson, Emma Bixler, Hailey Bixler, Jordan Knievel, Zia Moore, Celina Knievel, Brittany McConnell, Wynter Fulsaas and Jorden Fulsaas. Kasi Grosserrode was also chosen but elected to attend Cornhusker Girls State instead.
The students are set to play pep band during the Northeast Nebraska All-Star Football Classic on Saturday at Norfolk’s Veteran’s Memorial Field. The band will perform their patriotic set at halftime. Kickoff for the game is set for 1 p.m.