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Marching Band Leadership

The Smoky Hill marching band leadership team was announced Monday, April 17.

Haley Commons, Staffer

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The 2016-2017 school year may be coming to an end, but the 2017 marching band year is just beginning. Students who have participated in marching band in the past recently had the opportunity to apply for the honorable position as section leader for the upcoming marching season. This year’s application required applicants to submit evaluation forms from two other teachers in the building, answer essay questions regarding leadership experience and what they could bring to the band, and go through an interview process.

The brief interview, which takes about seven minutes, gives students an opportunity to articulate why they think they’d be a good fit for the position, what their goals are as a leader, what they’re working on to improve, and what they admire in other leaders. All of these elements gives the marching band staff a good idea of who would make a good fit to be in a leadership position.

Student leaders, also known as section leaders, are in charge of choosing the band’s parade tunes (songs that they will be playing while marching in parades and during home football games), teaching their peers all of the music, how to march properly, enforce what the staff directs them to do, getting contact lists together, recruiting new members to the band, communicating with their sections, putting together summer rehearsals, organizing marching band equipment so it’s ready to go when students come in, cleaning the facility, and so much more. Being a student leader is a privilege, not a right.

After getting through the application process and being seen as the best fit is just the beginning. To ensure the leadership team “has what it takes” to be in this position, they go through various training throughout the school year, and even during the summer. Zak Ruffert, the band director says that the leadership team will meet every Tuesday after school from a week from now until the end of the school year, and then they will meet after school every Monday (probably) during the new season.

At these meetings, with Ruffert directing, the students will look through readings, watch TED talks, and communicate with each other about various topics in which they wish to discuss. Last year Ruffert invited the principal, Mr. Puga, to speak to the leadership team about student leadership and his perspective. Mr. Cohen was also invited to give his perspective on student leadership during another meeting.

During the summer, in addition to running summer sectionals, all students who are chosen for the leadership team are sent to a two day leadership workshop, where they will be under the instruction of Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser and Heidi Sarver and they will “get another perspective and really start to develop skills that they can use, some concrete things that they can then actually implement with their peers in a leadership position,” says Ruffert. Being a section leader is equal parts training and getting work done.

The philosophy of leadership in the band program is one of servitude leadership. “People in leadership positions are there to serve the group,” Ruffert said. One saying about leadership that Ruffert likes to use is: good leaders do what needs to be done, when it needs done, without being asked, whether or not they want to. “We look for students who identify the needs of their peers in the organization and act to fill the needs,” Ruffert said in regard to how they decide which applicants get chosen to be section leaders.

If you are looking to join marching band in the future or have been in the program for only a year, Ruffert had words for those who wish to be a student leader in the future: “People are more important than titles;” Ruffert said. This means, don’t apply to be section leader if you are doing it for you so that you can have the title of being “the one in charge”.

The point of being appointed to this position is to serve the band. Ruffert continued to give advice to any student who has their eyes on being in a leadership position: “You don’t have to wait to start being a great leader. It’s never too early to look around and see ‘what does my organization need to be more successful’ and act to fill those needs. You don’t need a title to do that.” Don’t wait to start being a leader.

Ruffert’s overall message to those who applied, but weren’t selected to be student leaders, is that you can still be a leader without a title. Staying the course and continuing to serve the band shows a great mark of maturity and it demonstrates that you really are dedicated to the organization.

Congratulations to all applicants for taking a risk, going through the application process, and being willing to support the band in all aspects.

Congratulations to the 2017 marching band leadership team:

Alicia Bryant

Eliyah Chadioun

Soren Clark

Blake Davis

Brandon diLorenzo

Emma Eagen

Walker Hans

Amber Helart

Sabrina Lalinde-Fischer

Stefen Park

Keaton Pollard

Aayjah Royston

Lowell Salazar

Josh Selby

Vinnita Soth

Daniel Stein

Paul Varosy

Bradley Welker

Drisana Willner

Liam Williams

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Marching Band Leadership