The Brownstown Central High School Band of Braves and drill team will march onto the field at Blevins Memorial Stadium this fall with a little more pep in their step.
That’s because the old uniforms are a thing of the past and they will be proudly wearing new ones.
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Director Richard Branaman said the 80 band uniforms cost nearly $36,000. About half came from a fund set up with the Community Foundation of Jackson County, while the rest came from the band boosters. The new drill team uniforms should arrive soon.
“That was a big shot in the arm,” he said of the foundation fund. “We started putting money back beforehand, so we had a little bit of money in the bank we had allocated to uniforms. Then the past year, that big push really helped.”
Branaman said band alumni, current members and their families and the community made the new uniforms possible.
“There were people that would come up at ballgames and say, ‘Hey, I want you to know that I remember wearing those uniforms, and that’s my grandson out there.’ They took great pride,” he said. “A couple of former band members cornered me in (the band room) and said, ‘I want my picture with you and this money in my hand, and I’m trying to challenge all of my bandmates from my class to match my donation.’”
Those are examples of how great Brownstown is, Branaman said.
“Our community, they love our school, they support us. It’s nice,” he said. “I think (the uniforms) really look nice.”
The band members recently had a chance to try on the new uniforms for the first time.
Senior drum major Andrew Wheeles said it took much less time to put on compared to the old uniforms, which had several parts to buckle and zip.
“It was a process to even get them on and even more of a process to get them off. It’s just a whole ordeal. We had to start getting ready 15 minutes before we even needed to be anywhere,” he said. “With (the new uniforms), we can slip them on and get out. I put this on in like a minute. With (the old uniforms), I felt so stiff. This one, I can move all over.”
Since this is his final year of high school band, Wheeles likes having the opportunity to wear a new uniform.
“Hearing that my senior year, we’d get to try the new uniforms, I was just ecstatic,” he said. “An upgrade was duly needed, and we fundraised and we fundraised, and we got these and they look so nice.”
Marching onto the turf field this year will give the band a sense of pride, he said.
“It will definitely be up to par with the facilities now because we’ve got the turf field,” Wheeles said. “Everything is getting renewed, and here we are with these. They look really nice, and I’m excited for people to see them.”
Fellow senior Lela Hendley also is happy about not having to wear the old uniforms anymore.
“I had the same uniform for three years, so I had this one piece in my shoulder that stabbed me every time I would wear a certain shirt,” she said. “Those are very uncomfortable.”
She’s relieved to have a new uniform to wear.
“I like them. They are nice,” Hendley said. “They are a lot lighter because those (old) uniforms had three layers, and this is just one and off, so I feel like it will be easier when we change in and out.”
She appreciates the community supporting the band.
“It was pretty cool that a lot of people from the community raised all of this money for us to get new uniforms because for a long time, it was a debatable thing if we were going to get them or not,” Hendley said. “It’s cool that it just pulled through and it was able to happen.”
Junior drum major Kirsten Raisor said her favorite thing about the new uniforms is the gauntlet that features the logos of the schools that consolidated to create Brownstown Central in 1964.
“I just love the new uniforms,” she said. “It brings more attention to us that we have new uniforms. The new ones are so lightweight and easy to move in, while (the old ones) are heavy and those are just very uncomfortable.”
With the 2019-20 school year ending with students doing eLearning because of the COVID-19 pandemic and now a new school year underway, the band is excited about performing this fall at football games.
The band wasn’t able to get together until mid-July.
“I just couldn’t find inspiration for a theme for a show,” Branaman said. “I couldn’t go to the movies and be inspired by something new, so I’m sitting there and it just hit me: I want to celebrate being able to be together.”
The pregame song will be “Carnivale,” a Latin march that Branaman said is really peppy and sounds like a celebration or festival. The halftime show opener will be Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” while the drill team features will be Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA,” Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s “Dancing in the Street,” and the closer will be P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass.”
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The Brownstown Central High School Band of Braves and drill team will perform at home football games Aug. 28, Sept. 4 and 25 and Oct. 2 and 16.
The band is directed by Richard Branaman. The drum majors are senior Andrew Wheeles, junior Kirsten Raisor and sophomore Madison Edwards. The drill team sponsor is Angela Blann.