- September 21, 2022
Drum major Allison Guzman, a senior at Braden River High School, stood on the podium holding back tears as she saw the Marching Band of Pirates waiting for her command.
Memories of the four years of her high school band career flashed in her mind.
That included grueling practices to anxiety before performances as well as celebrations over state titles. She knew this last performance with the band — Oct. 29 during the Community Night showcase — would be bittersweet.
“I was super grateful to even have a season, so this last performance was everything to me,” Guzman said.
The band’s season was shorter than previous years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For seniors, the season was supposed to be a time for them to live up to their predecessors by winning the state champion title once again, but the pandemic dashed those dreams with the cancellation of competitions.
Braden River’s band has been state champion for the 3A division at the Florida Marching Band Championships five times and has been reigning champion for the past three years.
“This is not what I hoped it would be, but it feels good to be able to do this one more time,” said Jordan Sheehan, a senior and a drum major.
The band performed pep band songs and the school fight song before performing a brief marching show with a medley of the 5th Dimension’s “Age of Aquarius,” The Who’s “I Can See for Miles” and The Turtles’ “So Happy Together.”
Jeramiah Bowman, the director of the band, wanted to give his students a fun song to perform, especially given all the challenges students and the band were facing as a result of the pandemic.
While students have been adjusting to the way school is run with hybrid schedules, e-learning, masks and social distancing, the actual practices and performances have given members some sense of normalcy.
“It’s kind of been what’s been driving me,” Sheehan said. “There’s something about band and being able to get better and still having that show we can work to improve upon that’s been driving me.”
Although the band continued to practice each week, members said the season just wasn’t the same without competitions.
“It was a big thing missing,” Sheehan said. “I sat there during warmups and imagined what it was like on the field at some other high school, and I was a lot more nervous, a lot more on edge. To not have that, it’s like a big black hole.”
Bowman added, “It’s intense when it’s happening, but then you kind of miss it.”
Bowman was grateful to have practices, so the band could continue learning drill and music, focus on the visual aspects of shows and go through the process of creating and improving a show.
“A whole year off would have been like taking a year off school,” Bowman said. “You can’t all of a sudden make that up in a summer or a week.”