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Twirling Flags, Music, and a Disney Adventure

Ever wondered what marching band does? How the colorful twirls of the Shaker flags get together? What the whole Disney adventure is about? Well, if you want to learn the inside scoops on it all, you’re at the right place. Mrs. Carraher, who is the advisor for the color guards, was very generous and helped me led some light on the situation in my interview with her. Marching band and color guarding are a group of performers at our school. If you ever happened to be in Shaker’s Pep rally, you know that they’re good and you know it brings a lot of pride to all of us just to listen to them; music is a universal language after all, and it connects us all together to hear the Shaker rhythm. It makes me say, “God, I love this school so much” when I hear them blasting during the Pep rally. I know a lot of people wouldn’t say that, but no school is perfect and having been to other schools, I can definitely say that Shaker was and is my favorite. Most schools don’t even have a Pep rally and a marching band.

Marching band has students who play musical instruments and take lessons in school on these instruments. Then they even take it a step further by sharing their talents with others by joining the marching band. The color guard is considered a part of the marching band because they accompany marching band in different parades and various sporting events that they perform at.

The color guard, aside from the marching band, is also in the process of setting up a few independent performances where they visit a local nursing home and perform for them. The color guard consists of males and females, so don’t be confused and think they’re just females.

Depending on the event that they have coming up, these groups meet two to three times a week. The next big event is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Albany, which is always the Saturday before the St. Patrick’s Day. This is March 14th this year. It goes from Central Avenue, travels east and merges with Washington Avenue in Albany. After that, they will be practicing a lot more for the Disney parade. So far, they have performed at the Pep rally as I have mentioned before, and “Here comes the Santa Claus” at Colonie Center mall. “The band had marched in, in front of Santa Claus, and the kids were very excited to see all of that,” Mrs. Carraher tells us about the event. I would be excited to see it, too.

St. Patrick’s Parade is a very big event held in Albany. What’s really exciting about it is that it’s a very fun challenge because the students are trying to perform well navigating through the crowd; sometimes it’s hard, but it’s also fun. The crowd in Albany isn’t always confined to the sidelines as the crowds in other parades are. Mrs. Carraher informs me that, “Sometimes the crowd gets excited and people want to come out and high five you and they’ll yell ‘yeah!’ and there are students with their flags and it’s challenging to keep up with all of that sometimes, but it’s always fun! It’s my job to make sure that the spectators stay away from the color guard members, the band as well, but more with the color guards, because they got the flags, and they twirl them and you want to make sure you don’t hit anybody because it would hurt a lot.” They also have some parades in the summer.

The color guard only had eight members last year. Then at the end of year more people started to join. It used to be all girls, but then guys came in to the equation. People started telling their friends, and now there are 18 color guard members. They don’t have to have even number of members, the nice thing about it is that they can change their configurations and moves to accommodate as many people as they have. Color guard is a very diverse group, not just in their ethnicity but also in terms of their personality. They come from very different backgrounds. There are students who are interested in music and students who are not so interested. There are students who are very into their schoolwork, and there are students who are not into it as much. But in color guard, it doesn’t matter. Everybody comes together and performs for the same goal.

The Disney trip is the big motivator here. The excitement it brings to the group is worth all their hard work. Most students join at the beginning of the year and then go to Disney as a reward of everything they have done. The Disney trip is every other year so you get two chances during your high school experience to live this adventure. Although there is a wait list for the Disney trip due to the amount of popularity, obviously those who have contributed more gets dibs on the list first. The band and the color guard perform at Disney World in Orlando and then get to spend the rest of the two days having fun at the park with their friends.

This year, they leave for the trip on Thursday, May 21st. They return to Albany on Sunday, May 24th. They will be staying at the Disney All Star Resort (Fancy!!! At this point, I’m actually jealous; all the more reason to join this, guys!!). The student cost for the trip is $1085. It might look very expensive to you, but not so much when you dig under the surface a little bit. The nice thing about it is that the cost of the trip includes a ton! It includes six meals, the airfare, and the hotel room. If you go with your family, it might be, let’s say $800 per person, but that cost doesn’t include food, airfare, and photos. So at the end of it all, it’s a very reasonable price. The only extra cost would be your additional expenses. These groups will and always do continue to have fundraisers till the trip to try to offset the cost for everybody. Marching band and Color guard used to sell chocolate bars as a means to fundraise, but because of the new USDA laws they can’t do that anymore. At the beginning of the year, they sold cookie dough; they always do– a tradition of these two groups. They’re also looking to sell candy through a catalog in the future so it won’t technically be sold in school as a way to fundraise more for the trip.

If you want to have one more way to make high school unforgettable, this is a great opportunity. This is also a group that you will never forget, not just because of the parades and the Disney trip, but because of the endless seeming practices, the parties before holidays, the friends, and the memories you don’t forget, even after high school….