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Getting the bands back together

District’s marching bands hold combined performance

Forest Hills — Senior Gia Monterusso suddenly turned her head in the direction of the Northern High football field, where Eastern High’s marching band was performing.

“What happened?” she asked. “What did they do?”

A bandmate explained to the Central High drum major that Eastern had just performed a “cool” dipping move with the brass section.

“That is fantastic,” Gia responded. “I don’t ever get to see the other bands’ performances because of our own band schedule, so it is nice to be able to see them perform.”

The marching bands from Eastern, Central, and Northern high schools came together Sept. 25 for a half-hour program featuring each of their half-time performances. Eastern performed music based on the theme “happy.” Central featured jazz classics and Northern highlighted songs from the 1980s. Afterward, the groups came together to perform the 1961 song “Hey! Baby” by Margaret Cobb and Bruce Channel.

Northern High Band Director Joel Klamer said the combined performance was something the bands had done in the past. Klamer said both Joel Burns, Central High’s director of bands, and Kevin Langejans, Eastern Middle/High’s band director, are new this year and discussion came up of once again hosting a combined program.

Central’s Director of Bands Joel Burns gives directions to the band before heading on to Northern’s football field

“It is a nice opportunity for the three groups to showcase what they have been doing,” Klamer said. “Plus, it gives the students another opportunity to perform something they have been working so hard in perfecting.”

Klamer said there already has been discussion of which school might host the showcase next year, as the directors plan to make it a tradition.

A Chance to Hear and See Each Other Perform

The students showed their support by cheering, clapping along and giving one another standing ovations during the practice before the evening performance. 

“I know a lot of the students on the Central and Eastern bands because of camping and other after-school programs,” said junior Allie Edwards, an assistant drum major for Northern High’s marching band. “We talk a lot about rivals when it comes to football, but in a band, it is nice we can put those aside and celebrate with each other.” 

The drum majors for each of the marching bands are, from left, seniors Maggie Schimeck, Lydia DeWitt and Gia Monterusso from Central; senior Alex Kuo and junior Allie Edwards from Northern; and seniors Ally Alkema and Devin Kozal from Eastern

Senior Maggie Schimeck, a Central High drum major, said she knows many people from the other bands because she plays field hockey. She echoed Allie’s comments and added that the combined performance demonstrated how connected the three schools are.

Of course, there was a little bit of weighing up going on during the performances.

“Yeah, I am comparing our drumline to what the others are doing,” said junior Theo Barnes, head of Northern’s drumline. He took a couple of beats to cheer on the Central band as they performed, and said “I am seeing where we could get better and improve.”

Read more from Forest Hills: 
District to have two proposals on Nov. 7 ballot
Ready to lead

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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