Although Lakewood Ranch High School's marching band couldn't compete due to the pandemic, the students were grateful to keep the program going.
Drum major Gianna Hagopian, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, used one word to describe the Marching Mustangs’ first rehearsal after the start of the semester:
“You see your friends, and you just want to run up to them and hug them, but you have to step back and go, ‘Oh, we can’t do that,’” Hagopian said.
Everyone was required to wear a mask, fill out a health survey and have their temperatures checked.
Instruments including trumpets, clarinets, mellophones and tubas had covers on their horns, and flutes had shields on the mouth piece.
Nothing about this season would be the same as past years, but many members, including Hagopian and senior Tyler Chambers, thought everyone did their best during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m surprised how far we’ve come and what we’ve done in order to make it like previous seasons,” Chambers said. “It’s been pretty good for a senior year. I do miss the other seasons, though, but for what we can do, it’s been pretty good.”
With band competitions and programs across the state being canceled due to COVID-19, the Mustangs were grateful to have a season at all.
“It’s a little disappointing [to not compete], but it’s also nice that we actually have a season,” Hagopian said. “It’s been nice to get out here and just perform some music, even if we’re not competing. It’s still been nice to just have this family together again.”
The Marching Mustangs performed their show in their new uniforms during rehearsal Nov. 5 in front of their families.
For the seniors, it was their last practice as members of the band.
“It’s crazy,” Hagopian said. “I feel like four years ago, I was a little freshman and thinking, ‘Man, these four years, it’s going to be ages.’ My last time marching was at [state] finals last year. I never thought that would be my last real competition. We have a show though.”
Having rehearsals provided many members of the marching band with some sense of normalcy.
Chambers was happy the band’s practices continued because it was his only extracurricular activity.
“Otherwise, I don’t know what I would be doing,” he said. “This has been four years of just so much fun. I couldn’t imagine a year without it.”
Ron Lambert, the director of the Marching Mustangs, said it was crucial to have a season this year to provide final band memories for the seniors. He also said it is important to introduce freshmen to the program and its fundamentals.
“It was a mission to make sure that this year’s seniors had an experience, and this year’s ninth graders came away from it understanding what marching band is,” Lambert said. “If we didn’t do it, I’d have a whole class of 10th graders who had not experienced what Mustang marching band is all about.”