Franklin band director Steve Johnston wasn't 100 percent sure where this year's band would be at the point. COVID effectively took more than a year's worth of experience away from the underclassmen. But to his amazement and pleasure, this band seems hungry and learns very fast.
And with enthusiasm.
"This is one of the most focused and dedicated groups we've had," he said of the 105 student band. "And they're good kids."
He reveled at how much they have improved in such a short time. And he keeps adding wrinkles to the routines by changing up dance moves in the middle of songs. His notepad is littered with stick figure drawings, beats and notes that emphasize his confidence in this group's ability to learn. This is where he visualizes what we eventually see on the field during shows and at halftime of Franklin football games.
He peppers in tales of tradition, sometimes in subtle ways like describing a very dear piece of equipment he uses every day. "The very first thing I ever bought when I became a marching band director was this whistle," he said as he held up the item and explained he has had it since 1993. He plans to have it until he retires, though it needs a little work to have the same sound he is used to from his beloved whistle.
He also brings back former students who show the way they did it "back in the day."
Though the kids have to get up early in the summer, work hard for four hours each day, sweat a lot and get really exhausted - they learn and, for the most part, wear smiles as they perform.
The two-week camp ends this Friday, though they have one more scheduled practice next week. Then it's game on as the football season starts on the road August 28. Franklin's first home game is on September 3 against Fairview.