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The Franklin High School Marching Panther Regiment took to the field for senior night to open the game for the last home appearance of the regular season. In addition to cheering the Panthers on during the playoffs, which will take place at home, the band’s season is just beginning.Competitions, concerts and fruit keep band busy.

Last Friday night, the Franklin High School Marching Panther Regiment travelled alongside the football team to Tuscola to offer support and encouragement on the football team's journey to a perfect season. In addition to organizing both pre-game and half-time entertainment at all home football games, the marching band works all year long to represent Franklin High School in regional band competitions.

The Franklin High School Marching Panther Regiment competed in several competitions this year, and despite being a considerably young group, with 40 of 72 members being freshmen, the band was still able to grab Superior ratings in all captions at four of the five competitions they have participated in thus far.

The band competed locally at Enka and Pisgah High Schools, and regionally in the Charlotte and Atlanta areas. The band garnered many prestigious awards throughout the year, but the main focus of the semester has been on the performance in Atlanta at the Regional Invitational championships at Sprayberry High School.

"I remember several years back when our goal was to score a Superior rating in captions by the time the Atlanta regionals rolled around, yet this young band was scoring Superior ratings from the start. I am very proud and couldn't have asked for more,” said Buddy Huckabee, FHS Band Director.

With hours of practice and dedication, the band was able to score 87,15, which is the second highest score at Sprayberry that Franklin High School had scored in the last 12 years. With that score, FHS was less than two points away from the overall Grand Championship winners. The band placed second and third in the captions of best music, marching, general effect, and scored overall third place out of 11 bands regionally.

The band’s performances are inspired by the rock genre, complete with electric guitars and instrumental solos."I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication that this very young band has given this year,” said Huckabee. “In fact, I have never had over 50 percent of the band as freshmen since I have been here. I am used to only having 10 to 15 freshmen to work with, and having 40 this year was very difficult to manage at times. Even though the group was young, they still consistently scored Superior ratings in most captions, which gives me great hope for the future of the program."

With the football team rolling into the playoffs, the FHS Marching Band will be right there to cheer on the team, but that won't be their only focus. "Many people think that after football season is over, the band has a break, but little do they know that their season has just started," said Huckabee.

The band has just finalized its only major fundraiser of the year, the annual fruit sale. The trips the students take throughout each year rely heavily on the income from the fruit sale. According to Huckabee, about 75 percent of the income from the fruit sale goes to help the students compete and travel each year, the other 25 percent coming from band boosters and outside assistance from the community. "The fruit sale is the only source of survival for some of the students,” said Huckabee. “They rely on it to help pay off their fees and accounts."

The band is now preparing for the Christmas Concert, which is scheduled for Dec. 12, and will be performed with the FHS Chorus. The concert is free and open to the public. “Some select band students are also working individually to prepare for all state band auditions,” said Huckabee. “The students across the state prepare the same solo, and prepare all their scales and sight reading music to audition to play in the 'All State Band' clinic. This is where many scholarships and sponsorships come from. The auditions are in January, and the clinic is in February.”

In January, the band will begin preparing music for the regional "Superband" clinic, as well as prepare competition pieces for the district Music Performance Adjudication clinic in March (formerly known as contest festival). The band prepares music and will travel to Brevard College to perform in front of several judges which will then give them a rating of Superior, Excellent, Average, Below Average, or Poor.

Some members of the band dress in 1980s-themed garb for a touch of authenticity.At the end of March, the band will travel to Walt Disney World to compete against some of the finest bands in the southeast. The Marching Regiment will compete in a parade sequence and music performance competition, while the Jazz Ensemble competes against other jazz bands across the southeast. "The students have been working hard and raising funds for this trip since last Christmas and are looking forward to it," said Huckabee,

In May, the students will perform a Senior Dedication Show, in which the senior class, along with Mr. Huckabee, decides what music they would like to perform. The band will travel to all the elementary schools to perform this music as an end of the year celebration, as well as a basic recruiting tool for the band program. “The final concert is at the end of May to beginning of June as the Senior Dedication show is performed for the parents. The band will then have a short summer break, and begin this entire process again the week after July 4th,” said Huckabee. “It is a continuous rotation.”

For the first time in school history, the Franklin High School band will put together a Winter Drum Line. Huckabee explained that this is a group of students that will prepare a show of all percussion music, and perform it at basketball games, concerts, etc. "We hope to be able to fundraise to support this in the future a bit more, but as it stands right now we do not have the funds to compete yet, nor do I feel we will be ready to compete this first year," said Huckabee. The band did have a WinterGuard about seven years ago, which competed and took second place in Walt Disney World, but the following year, the winterguard folded. "I am very excited to start this endeavor and give even more opportunity to our students ... the more we can offer them, the more excited they are about the program,” said Huckabee. “We are proud to offer many opportunities here that other students in other programs do not have."

For all future information and concert announcements, check the band's website at www.franklinpantherband.com or call the school and speak with Mr. Huckabee. "Thank you friends, community, school system, and everyone for all your support in our band program ...we could not be doing what we are doing now without your continued support!"


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