There a number of traits that Jim Beerends wants to instill into his students this year, but none perhaps more important than family.
Beerends is the band director for Newton Senior High School, and this year’s band will feature 115 to 120 kids — including more than 50 freshman.
“It’s a great problem to have. In fact, I wouldn’t even classify it as a problem — that’s the future of the program and we are looking forward to having them for four years,” Beerends said.
The influx of new faces is the reason that Beerends is really making a push for his students to think of each other as family. He said its been something he and his staff have talked about doing in the past, however, this year was the perfect time to put that plan into action.
Beerends believes they can accomplish this by implementing a shared leadership model for the band students.
“Giving kids more responsibility, giving kids more ownership in the program so that they make it more of their own,” Beerends said. “We want them to feel like they are empowered, (like) they directly effect what happens here … where everyone feels they are a part of what is going on — more of a family atmosphere.”
Beerends feels that his plan is working. Members of the same section are starting to color coordinate their clothing during camp, the new leaders are being more vocal during drills and even at lunch, a group of students from various grade levels were enjoying each other’s company.
The heat, repetition and long days at band camp make for the perfect bonding tool for the students. Freshman Zach Clouse, a first year band member, sat next to junior Samantha Henning, a third year member of the color guard, during lunch on Thursday.
Henning talked about how challenging camp is and Clouse talked about how excited he is get to travel with the band. Another freshman, Helen Chandler, who wasn’t sitting too far from the other two, said she enjoys spending time with her band friends and traveling as well.
Although they are sweating it out under the July sun now, this camp will ensure the band is ready for its six competitions this fall.
Clouse certainly seems to buying into some of the other traits Beerends wants his students to implement: competitiveness, success and pride.
This year, the band will be performing songs from “Mask of Zorro,” which Beerneds said was easier for his younger students to learn, but still contained great pieces of music.
“Marching band is a difficult skill to learn. The rate at which they are picking the information up is phenomenal. There’s a couple of kids that look like they have been marching for a couple of years already,” Beerends said.
Beerends admits he’s hoping the trend of large amounts of incoming students joining the band continues. He believes the band could get to 150 to 160 members someday, and the family vibe he is creating with this class could contribute to that.
“It’s an exciting time to be part of the Newton band program,” Beerends said.
Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 6532, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.