The Franklin High School band has much to be proud of, as its members have been selected for two nationally renowned events–the Gator Bowl and the Forte Drum and Bugle Corps camp.
All 90 members of the Franklin High School Marching Panther Regiment have been chosen to go to Jacksonville, Fla., where they will attend the Gator Bowl college football game, along with its festivities.
First, the band will march through downtown Jacksonville on Dec. 31, showing off their skills before more than 30,000 onlookers at the Gator Bowl Parade. The event will be televised on Comcast and Sports South.
On New Year’s Day, the FHS band will compete with 25 other bands from around the nation during the 24th annual Gator Bowl Battle of the Bands Marching Competition. The winner of the event will take home $10,000 for their school marching program.
The following day, the winning band will perform at the pre-game show of the Gator Bowl college football game the following day at EverBank Field. All of the 25 selected bands will perform together at the halftime show. Approximately 80,000 cheering fans are expected to attend the nationally televised event. All bands will receive free tickets to attend the Gator Bowl football game.
This isn’t the FHS band’s first rodeo, or bowl game rather. In 2005, they took first place at the Gator Bowl with a “Pirates of the Carribean” show, and earned the title of Grand Champion. In 2007, the band placed first in every category in field competition at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. They took second overall in the parade competitions, missing first place by a tenth of a point.
Because of the band’s previous accolades at the Gator Bowl, they will return this year with distinction as an Honor Band and even perform in another parade at Universal Studios before the Gator Bowl game.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. These students will be able to tell their kids and their grandkids, that they performed on a field before 80,000 people,” said FHS band director Buddy Huckabee. “They will always remember this.” He added that the band has come a long way, and attributes a lot of their success to hard work and parental support.
Two musicians from the FHS band have been chosen to perform as part of an elite group and tour around the world with an internationally recognized drum and bugle corps.
After more than two years of training under Huckabee, FHS juniors Bradley Parrish on the Bugle and Caleb Moore on the drums, have made it into the Forte Drum and Bugle Corps. “Only the best of the best march in this corps,” he said. Moore and Parrish were put on contract with the corps in January.
Parrish and Moore spent last weekend in Burleston, Texas and are scheduled to return March 19-20 and April 16-17, to continue training with 40 of the nation’s top drum and horn players. The Forte Corps will later go on to compete with other corps from around the world.
What is remarkable, Huckabee said, was that 93 percent of the musicians selected to join a drum corps are college students, due to their experience.. “The rest are lucky to get in if they are high schoolers,” he said. The Forte Corps chooses the best musicians between the ages of 16 and 21. “They get to do something most high school students won’t ever get the chance to do.”
Huckabee said that his students have proven to be exceptional band members.
“When I give these students something to work for, they work hard and even harder. They are very dedicated,” said Huckabee. “For them, I have five words; the sky is the limit.”
However, reaching the sky isn’t cheap, Huckabee said. Parrish and Moore need money for traveling and drum corps expenses, and the entire band will be raising money to go to the Gator Bowl.
People interested in sponsoring individual students or the entire band can contact Huckabee at (828)524-6467.