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Wolfpack band marching toward excellence

My name is John Fischer. I am the band director at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School. In light of the recent opinion called in about our Crawford County band program and its boosters, I would like to take a moment to "introduce" you to the program, what it strives to be and what we teach our students.

In 2006, the band was in its very first competition at Corydon, getting absolute dead last by many points. That day opened up a new chapter for the band, even though we got a poor score. Each year since, the band has gotten bigger and better. In 2007, the band won that very same Corydon show. The 2009 season saw the group advance from district competition (like a sports sectional) to the regional competition in Evansville. One of the best days of my career was hearing a "Gold" rating announced at district. The students, who put so much time and effort into the program, were ecstatic. The band went from being "new" to being established. People watch for Crawford County now. After the season, the Marching Wolfpack was voted as one of the top five most improved bands in the state of Indiana from IndianaMarching.com.

The 2010 season looks extremely promising. With a large retention rate, and member improvement, our goal is to hear "from Marengo, Ind., … the Crawford County Marching Wolfpack!!" announced from the loudspeakers at Lucas Oil Stadium at the state finals.

Most people see the band at the football games (we support our sports teams!) and may assume that is all we do. Yet, how many people know that we travel to eight to 10 competitions each year?! Marching band is a BIG deal in Indiana, one of the biggest band states in the U.S.

In a recent edition's opinion section, there was a call stating their opinion about the band boosters at Crawford County doing nothing to raise money but stand at roadblocks at the four-way in Marengo.

The 2010-11 program budget sits at a projected $23,000. This is a lower number than originally projected, as the boosters have been finding ways to limit our expenses. Our budget could EASILY be over $50,000 each year if we matched many of the other programs in the state. We are probably one of the most dollar-efficient band programs in the state because:

•We have fewer staff (four) than most schools our size.

•Our HIGHLY QUALIFIED staff is paid less (about $6 per hour) and works more than the going rate (about $15 per hour).

—Staff also travels a great amount (average of 45 minutes to one hour) to get to CCHS.

•The staff donates its shows and music, whereas most other schools purchase them (about $8,000 to $11,500 per year).

—Marching band show music by John Fischer, $2,000 to $3,000.

—Marching band visual movements by John Fischer, $2,000 to $4,000.

—Winterguard show design by Jaime Fischer, $2,000.

—Winter drumline show music by Matt McClimon and John Griffin, $2,000.

•We only attend local competitions unless otherwise demanded.

—2009 shows: French Lick, Corydon, Paoli, Ramsey, Floyds Knobs, Columbus, Salem and Evansville.

We run numerous fundraisers throughout the year: cookie dough, pizzas, holiday items, peeler cards, raffles, rummage sales, Holiday World work, chili supper and, dare I say, roadblocks. Heck, we even collect and recycle aluminum cans from our members' families. Yet, roadblocks only cover a mere 7 to 9 percent of the marching band's budget alone. Also, consider that the band program covers the choir, percussion and colorguard program at the school, and roadblocks account for just between 4 to 6 percent of the budget. However, 4 to 6 percent means that our students will be fed healthy meals on long trips, or we will have a bus driver for all of our shows, or we can actually attend the competitions (there are entry fees, too).

We seek and obtain monetary donations each year from local and national companies. The program just recently had an 18-foot box truck donated from Jasper Engines and Transmissions (estimate $8,000 to $10,000). The boosters are diligently working on grant-writing for the band program. As of today, we are working with SIX different grant organizations. One of the biggest grants we are seeking would raise money not just for the band, but in the range of $100,000 for the whole county.

Our music program also prides itself in its philanthropic nature over the last four years. Our students and children need to learn the value and pride of giving to the community and to those less fortunate. We have seen what cancer and childhood disease can do to a family firsthand and can only imagine how awful it is for a family to not be able to put food on the table, especially around the holidays. If we meet our projected ticket sales for our Charity Concert on Friday, April 9, 7 p.m. in the CCHS cafeteria; tickets are $6 or five for $25 at the door, or $5 or five for $20 in advance), then the band program will have had a part in raising almost $10,000 to the likes of St. Jude's, cancer research (AACR) and the Crawford County Food Pantry.

Really, our goal is simple: life lessons through music education. We're not just talking notes and rhythms, banging a drum at a football game or playing at basketball games. We teach the values of hard work, self-esteem, self-discipline, group cooperation, a love for the arts and motivation to achieve your goals. Our students are often at the top of their respective classes. Our students use what they learn in the marching arts programs to achieve in life. It costs money to run this program, but there is NO DOUBT in the band boosters' minds that it is worth every penny!

John Fischer, Crawford County Junior-Senior High School Band Director
April 08, 2010

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