Students working tirelessly to raise remaining $25,000
Franklin High School’s band as been chosen as 1 of the 15 bands that will perform at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on January 2. The band will leave December 27 to make the trip to Jaguar Stadium. The band had to audition and competed with 286 other bands to secure their slot at the Gator Bowl. This will be FHS’ second appearance in the Gator Bowl, their first came in 2005. In 2005, the FHS band received first place out of the bands in attendance dubing them an “honors band.”
Director Buddy Huckabee noted that there was a lot less paperwork to file the second time around, and that it seemed easier to go through the audition process because Gator Bowl representatives were familiar with FHS and were excited to have them back. “We are making a name for ourselves,” said Huckabee. “The band is definitely looking forward to the trip– it will the highlight of many of their lives; a once in a life time experience.”
The Gator Bowl is expected to be sold out with an anticipation of 85,000 people projected to attend the game, as well as the parade, will be televised nationwide on three different stations: ESPN2, SportsSouth, and Comcast. FHS’ band will perform with the other 14 band from around the county during the half-time show. The band has already recieved the music for their performance; they have to learn the music and the steps individually and then are only given three hours of practice time with the other bands to work on the group half-time performance.
During the Dec 27 weekend, the band will also participate in a parade, a marching competition and an award ceremony. According to Huckabee, his overall goal is to get the FHS band to the Rose Parade, and the Gator Bowl will be another great step toward that goal.
The band has been working tirelessly since July 4th in preparation for their Gator Bowl performance on top of preparing for the school year. The 73 member band will continue intensive practice sessions six or seven times a week. “Band is not considered a sport, and is often overlooked,” Huckabee said. “I guarantee that if you can make it through band camp then you can play any sport.” Huckabee, who is in his 9th year as FHS’ band director, is proud of how hard the students have been working to prepare for the trip, not just on the field, to make sure they performance is perfect, but the students are responsible for the $80,000 that have been raised for the trip thus far. “We are determined to raise the money ourselves,” Huckabee commented, “because we know the school board does not have it. In these economic times, we understand that teachers are just happy to have jobs, and we don't want to put an extra financial burden on the school system.”
According to Huckabee, in addition to the $80,000 that has been raised by parents and students, $25,000 is still needed to make the trip. The travel expense is a large factor for the trip, which Huckabee estimates to be 30 - 35 percent of the overall cost. Charter buses alone to make the trip run around $30,000.
The band will be having their annual fruit sale beginning Tuesday, September 6. Huckabee said that he is hoping that the majority of the remaining $25,000 comes from the fruit sale. To show their appreciation of the support the community has given the band, Huckabee plans to feature the top three sponsors on the banner that the band will be carrying in the Gator Bowl parade. “Its our way of saying thanks, and it will publicized nationally,” he said. Being their second trip to the bowl, and as returning champions, FHS’ band is being considered to be the band to lead the parade.
“Thank you to Macon County Schools and Franklin High for being so supportive, we appreciate everyone’s support. Thank you to the athletic coaches for always working with us for whenever we need a field,” said Huckabee. The band also wanted to thank area businesses in the County for always helping out. “I am also grateful of the parents and students who have really stepped up to bat for us, and for the band boosters who have been loyal to the program.”
Anyone wanting more information to make a donation, or to pre-order for the fruit sale, contact the FHS band room at (828)524-6467 or visit their website at www.smnet.net/~fhsband/