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Fairmont’s premier marching band competition, The Kettering Fall Classic, will be held on October 8, 2011.

The band boosters are inviting you and/or your business to consider becoming a patron for this event. Your support of the 2011 Marching Band Program impacts the lives of not just those participating in the Fall Classic but the nearly 400 students in the Fairmont Band programs. As a patron you can support the band programs by placing an advertisement in the Fall Classic Program.

If you happen to be a business owner you may promote your business at the Classic. This event attracts over 5000 performers and music enthusiasts, and you may gain valuable visibility and positive impressions by having your advertisements announced during the Fall Classic event and read in the event program.

You may also wish to send a “good luck” greeting to one of your Fairmont marching band members, publicize an organization to which you belong, or to highlight an upcoming event with your own organization. What a great way to get the word out!

The Fairmont Bands welcome your donation in any amount to help make this event and season a success. Please send it to the address noted on the Patron Drive Ad flyer. If your donation is received by Tuesday, September 13, 2011, we’ll include your name and advertisement in the Fall Classic Program.

Thank you for supporting music programs in the Kettering Fairmont High School Band Department.

If you have questions, please call Mike Wager @ 435-5974 (home), or 361-1369 (cell). Please return the Patron Drive Ad with your contribution by Tuesday, September 13, 2011.

(Adapted from patron drive letter sent by Mike Wager, 2011 Fall Classic & Patron Drive Chairperson)

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I will be honest.

I only attend football games for the marching band.  Yes, I am now in my fifth year as a marching band parent so there is an incentive to get me to the games.  For me, I am paying $7 for a ticket to watch pre-game and half-time.  Later in the season, I will go to the game after half-time so I don’t have to pay $7 to watch the band’s post-game show.

I love baseball games and soccer games, but sadly, they generally do not have marching bands performing pre-game and half-time shows.

It’s not about the money.  It’s about – what is for me, personally – a waste of time.  I am one who likes to keep busy, and sitting through something that does not hold my attention is draining.  When I go to medical appointments or any place where I might find my self waiting, I have a book to read, or something to work on.  A football game is no different.  However, during a football game I generally go over to sit on the steps of the nearby school corporation’s administrative building to read or work.

Last night was an interesting night of football.

After the normal pre-pregame festivities of Step-Off, Entering the Stadium, and… (I guess that was it) I settled into my blue seat with a back next to a lovely lady and her trio of well-behaved, very polite daughters.  After a bit of chit-chat it was time for one of the most exciting (for me) parts of the evening.

The marching band took the field for pregame, and it was a special night because my son, Quintin, carrying two large cymbals, was marching for the first time.

My absolute favorite part of pregame is something that has become a tradition since it’s 2008 (I think) introduction: Script BIRDS.  The marching band moves to the backfield (visitor’s side for football folks) and winds its way out of a tightly packed blocked to spell out B I R D S in script formation.  This marching event was borrowed from The Ohio State University Marching Band’s Script OHIO and has become Fairmont’s crown jewel of the pregame excitement.

As I filmed the letters of BIRDS carefully connecting smoothly, out the corner of my eye I saw something that seemed to be caught somewhere between an impending disaster, and a video from America’s Funniest Videos: the Fairmont football team was plowing across the field at full force, heading directly toward the marching band just as it was completing the ‘D’ and preparing to move on to the ‘S’.  You could feel the fear wrap through the stands as the charging teammates barreled across the field seemingly blind to 200+ band members blocking their way.

Fortunately, the football players stopped within feet (possibly inches) at the edge of the ‘D’, dancing in place as they tried to figure this new formation.  The marching band continued moving through the team to form the ‘S’, and eventually, the football players realized they were in the way and moved to the sidelines while one player remained imprisoned by the forming ‘S’ (OK, that part was actually funny).

While this scene was playing out around the 30, over on the 50 the opposing team’s players had run onto the field but with a less crushing charge.  They hovered in the middle of BIRDS, bringing out a nasty chorus of “Boos” from the Fairmont stands.  Finally, the players were motioned off the field by zebra-striped officials.

Despite this game being the hottest competition of each opening season, the hottest topic was pregame’s near disaster.

For me, personally, the situation was over.  Thankfully, no one was injured (later in the game there was a band injury).  It was the first time since the band began doing Script BIRDS that there was ever an incident on the field – to my knowledge.  However, there was widespread grumbling in the stands, and beneath the stands, and not just from current, and former band parents.

The pre-speculation was to blame the football team for “being so stupid.”

Now, anyone who is mildly acquainted with well-practiced athletic teams and marching bands know that someone had to give the order to move.  I honestly could not see the team deliberately charging its own marching band.  I am sure this happens in some schools, but from my vantage point, the Fairmont directors and coaches have always appeared to have a mutual respect for one another, and this has always seemed the case with the students in both organizations.

Then, the blame was being sourced out to the coaches of both teams – but mainly to our coach whose players could have caused the most harm.

All I cared about, up to half-time, was heading home to rest, and download my photos for my mother to see (she is always proud of her grandsons).

While getting my popcorn, more out of boredom than hunger, one former band parent asked what I thought caused the near-onslaught of our band members.  My first reaction, kept to my self, was, “Why does my opinion even matter?  This is just part of your drama-ensued nature, Lady.” (You’d have to know this lady!)  Instead, I said that I was glad all was well, and turned to give my order – and thankfully, the parent followed my dismissal.

The next band parent, following me up the stadium ramp and stairs, asked, “What do you think caused the pregame incident?”

“Obama,” I tossed back over my shoulder.  “Everything seems to be his fault these days.  I say it’s Obama’s fault our kids nearly got crushed.”

He laughed and went to his seat.   I went to mine.

Later, on a Facebook post, the band director did note that it was the head official’s (ref) decision to send the football team in too soon.  

The score board indicated the first quarter was not over… one more quarter and then it would be half-time.

A gentleman seated two rows behind me must have been the same guy who sits with a group of drunk pals at Elsa’s restaurant in Kettering whenever there is a game playing on the large screen.  He is THAT guy that has the loudest, most penetrating voice, and is THAT guy who knows everything about the coach’s job.  Most are referred to as “arm chair quarterbacks.”  I simply refer to them as ‘loud-mouth, drunken asses.”  The LMDA behind me did not sound intoxicated, but was certainly loud and obnoxious.

However, he did something that makes me want to turn, and create a Jerry Springer moment in public.  He belittled players when they did not succeed with a play on the field.  This bullying behavior from spectators is wrong in any venue, but I find it severely inappropriate behavior when teenagers, or younger, are playing the game.  This kind of behavior should be always be removed from any game.  Finally, one of the folks across the aisle rose to say something privately to the LMDA.

The cutest moment was listening to the elderly couple directly behind me.

The visiting team’s band was attempting to perform their half-time presentation, but were held up by technical difficulties (electricity to their keyboard).  The couple suddenly became Howard Cosells with play-by-play commentary which cracked me up.  The seriousness invested in their comments made it all the more rich.

“I’ve still got that extension cord in the truck.  Should I go get it and offer it to them?”

“You mean the cord you used when you went to fix Helma’s porch light?”

“Hmm Hmm.  She just needed a new light.”

“Why didn’t you bring it in?”

“I forgot.”

The visiting band began their show, but directed it to their fans, and not to the Fairmont side.

“I’ve never seen a band march with the backs to the crowd.”

“Something new I suppose.”

“Why do they have lamp posts on the field?”

“Maybe some school football bleachers don’t have good lighting.”

“But they are not lit.”

“I should have gotten my extension cord.  Could’ve lit at least one or two of their lamps.”

Finally, it was Fairmont’s turn to take the field.  At the close of their presentation, the marching band moved towards the stands playing the fight song.  The lady behind me, having apparently forgotten about the lighting situation from the previous band, says, “I don’t like it when those one horns slide up.”

“They’re slide trombones, for Christ’s sake.”

And with that chuckle, I slid down the steps to make my retreat home.

An eventful game, indeed.

This note to band parents just arrived from the band director:

A few items “for the record”

  • The Band did a great job – Congratulations!
  • The Head Referee told our football players they had to take the field, however his timing was not in alignment with the planned game schedule the FHS athletic dept had published
  • The Alter football team was instructed to NOT go to center field but to angle over to the sideline
  • Band Student name withheld, who was tackled during the drum line 3rd quarter was checked out by the EMT at the game and is OK. He is here for donation day today.  This was an unfortunate accident and we will take measures to correct this for next week.
  • Thanks to all students, parents, and staff for a “memorable” first game!

If you have never been to a Fairmont High School football game, you are missing some pretty neat traditions.

The high school and football stadium, one of the nicest in the area, are several blocks apart.  At first I thought this was logistically impractical; however, now I see it as one of the neatest, most exciting moments one can experience.

At 6:45pm, in front of the performing arts wing, the entire band lines up for what is called, Step Off.  The band moves around the high school’s Southern campus inviting tailgaters and other fans to fall in behind the band.  The Marching Firebirds and trailing fans wind through a picturesque neighborhood filled with more cheering fans enjoying barbecue parties, fans waiting from their parked cars to join the procession, and fans who simply stand on their front porches to watch the band go by.

I mean, how neat is that?  Six Fridays each fall you have a 200+ marching band pass by your house.

While this is going on, there is a growing momentum at the stadium.  This particular night, I hurried to the stadium to catch the band’s entrance – clearly a major moment for Firebird football/band fans.

The announcer brings stadium attention to the marching band as it rounds the corner from the neighborhood, and this is often accompanied with cheers.  The band winds through the parking lot, through a gate, and then proceeds under the stadium seating which is heralded by the pounding of percussion.  The stands vibrate and shake while the fans go nuts.

Last night, as the marching band moved beneath the stadium, the announcer referred to the band as “the Pride of Kettering.”  Yes… it is!

It really is a neat tradition that rivals many college traditions, and if you live in The Miami Valley, it is worth the time to swing by and watch.

In fact, stay for the game and watch the pre-game production which offers another incredible moment when the marching band spells out a script “BIRDS.”

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