By Madeleine Phillips
Despite being in-person this year it’s going to take time for school-run activities to go back to normal, an idea that rings true for Mt. Hebron’s Marching Unit. From the mask policy to a reduction in numbers, the unit is facing many new challenges. Nonetheless, they are confident in their skills and abilities, and in the possibility for improvement that this year provides.
The mask policy adopted for the Marching Unit this year is the same as the Howard County Public School System’s; wearing a mask inside is required, however it is up to the students’ and staffs’ levels of comfort when outside. Additionally, students must use a bell cover for their instrument when playing inside.
The mask policy is not the only change that’s been made to the Marching Unit. This year, the size of the unit totals only about 100, a massive decrease from past years.
As Senior Natalie Gales, a section leader within the Marching Band, says, “Right now, music programs across the county have been reduced in size by about 50%, so that definitely affects the size of our Marching Unit, which makes me sad.”
Marching Unit Director Joe Fischer has a similar opinion.
“I think the biggest difference is we just don’t have the same number of people that have been through Marching Band in years past. So, just about everybody is pretty new to marching. It’s a new experience for almost all of the students with the exception of some of our seniors who were involved for many years, and a few juniors who were involved the last time we were together,” he said.
However, Freshman Robin Interrante, a flutist within the Marching Band, notes that “Next year it should be easier than it is currently, because there will be less people who don’t know what they’re doing.”
Regardless of these changes, members of the Unit are excited for the year. Senior Deon Kouatchou, a Drum Major within the Marching Band, emphasizes “The culture we’ve created, led by Mr. Fisher and our band leadership team, is an inclusive culture. For example, [pointing to a spot in the band room] right over there is the Appreciation Station, where we show gratitude. We write a little note to someone and send it to them. People send it between their sections and we also send it to parents. It’s something that’s newly established but it’s had a huge impact on, I feel, the vitality of our program, and people wanting to be a part of it and staying.”
Although this year will be a difficult one, members are excited to be back and are optimistic for what the future of the Marching Unit will bring.