LHHS Band finds its ‘Silver Lining’
By ANTHONY FLORES
As the sun set on a chilly October night, the stands of Panther Stadium filled with proud parents, eager to support their kids. It was different from the typical fall Friday night in Texas, but one to never forget.
On the field, the Liberty Hill High School marching band readied for its only live performance of the school year. Adjusting from the usual eight-minute halftime performance, the band and director John Perrin created a new four-minute medley: ‘You Are My Sunshine’, ‘Ode to Joy’, and ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ entitled ‘Silver Linings’.
“I am an optimist. I think you can find something positive in every instance,” said Perrin. “It may not be clear at the moment, but over time maybe something will become clear. I don’t know the plan for everything but I do believe there’s a reason for everything. That’s why we chose Silver Linings.”
With almost all aspects of life, COVID is the root of new rules and precautions Perrin and his students are having to adjust to.
“It’s been challenging. We want to do everything safely because we take the kids’ safety very seriously. We try and follow all of the protocols, and we’ve done more than what is recommended,” said Perrin. “The kids really worked hard through the whole thing, and the limitations were massive. We still came up with a good product.”
Despite his usually optimistic outlook, Perrin couldn’t help but feel doubt as the school year began.
“If you’d have asked me in August, I would’ve said two weeks, and we’re done. All the reports from other schools that started before we did were two weeks and done,” he said. “It didn’t happen here, and I’m so glad we’ve been able to go all the way through this. It’s been smoother sailing for us than many other programs, so I’m just thankful for that.”
With an hour until the performance, the energy and excitement in the band hall were palpable as students made sure they had everything necessary to pull off their program.
As preparations continued, junior trombone section leader Kaitlin Homan said this performance was vital to the growth and experience of the freshmen.
“This is the culmination of everything we’ve been working for this year. This year has been a real turning point for the band. We moved into the new district, and we’re really trying to take on the approach of not being upset with the COVID stuff, instead, looking at it in a positive light. I mean, Silver Linings is the name of the show,” she said. “I’m not nervous because this is in front of my family and friends, and we’re not in front of the big stage. I’m still going to try and treat it like that because that’s what we will be experiencing in the next couple of years.”
Once on the field, with 30 minutes to go, the band and color guard began running through their performance as parents and spectators filled the socially distanced stands.
Once the performance started, moving in synchronicity, each section of the band and the color guard put on a show filled with weeks of pent-up emotion and energy. The band wove through each movement seamlessly as the lights shone down, and the eager crowd looked on. Band members were met with an eruption of applause as they basked in their moment of glory.
Following the performance, an emotional Perrin thanked the crowd for showing up and supporting the kids. Perrin spoke of the character and hard work the band put into the preparation and performance, discussing the trying obstacles they worked together to overcome.
Several students were presented with awards recognizing their work over the weeks leading up to the Friday performance. Recognized were freshmen Gabe Marler, Rachel Ware, Zach Reynolds, and Cole Labay; sophomore Noah Graf, juniors Bailey Eells, and Melody Willard; and seniors Abbey Byrns and Kris Kelley.
Parents joined their musicians on the field, congratulating the exhausted and exhilarated band students. Senior drum major Breely Bodine, with excitement strong in her voice, shared her pride in the performance.
“The most exciting thing was this being my senior year, and this being our last performance, we did it. We didn’t know if we were going to have one,” said Bodine. “Silver Linings means finding the good in everything, and we found the good in the situation that we’re in with this pandemic. I think it was a really representative and important show. It was surprising and nice to see this many people here.”
Fellow senior drum major, Veronika Hyska, discussed the difficulty of putting together their program and her amazement at accomplishing their goals in the face of so many obstacles.
“This is my senior year, and everything went according to plan. I saw the energy of the band. It was amazing. I’m so glad to have relationships with everyone,” said Hyska. “Last time, best time is what we say here. We live for us, and this program is something I really enjoyed during my four years of high school. It’s amazing to finally finish things out like this.”
Senior Piccolo player Kierstun Miller said the performance was vital to the band and was something that the community needed during difficult times.
“It was very nerve-wracking and surreal. With all the lights and stuff, it felt like a movie. A lot of it was so amazing. The warm-ups were the hardest part. I was so nervous and scared of messing up,” Miller said. “It was so important for us to do this because it brings in the community, and it gives so much positivity. I think it was amazing. I was surprised at the turnout. I was marching up and thought, oh my gosh, that is a lot of people.”
In his senior year, Colton Harbour is used to performing under the Friday night lights in front of a large crowd. The drum major was overwhelmed by the turnout, feeling the support of his community.
“To see this number of people felt great. It was difficult because we had so many restrictions, and we had an original show then had to come up with a completely new one. With new restrictions, we also couldn’t start until after band camp, and that’s when we usually do most of our work,” said Harbour. “I think this was important for a lot of new members and for our older members, especially the seniors because they got that final performance in front of a crowd. The freshmen got the opportunity to experience something close to competition.”
Amid the pandemic, planning ahead for almost anything is difficult. After pulling off the program successfully, Perrin feels the best way to approach the upcoming months is to plan, as they usually would, adjusting as they need to.
“We’re going to break out some Christmas music, and we’re going to try and program a Christmas concert, whether we do it outside at the stadium or in the parking lot,” said Perrin. “We’re planning on going to the UIL concert and sight-reading, whatever that looks like. We’re taking the same approach we did in the summer. We’re going to plan for it to be regular then adjust for whatever happens.”