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Written by Jes-c Brandt   

A community affair

There are many reasons I appreciate living in a small town. Bank tellers are understanding when you don’t remember your account number. There isn’t much traffic when you’re learning to drive a stick shift. Any HHS graduate can return to the school and be a part of some great school spirit.

This last weekend I attended a high school basketball game, as I occasionally do. Usually I’m there to cheer on my sister or just to visit with old friends and add another voice to the cheers of “Go Big Green!”

However, the most recent Holyoke-Chase County game had something special in store. Stuart Potter’s high school pep band was open to the public, and I jumped at the opportunity to play the saxophone again.

OK, I’ll admit it, I did have a hand in organizing the event, but really that’s just one more thing I love about our small town. How many people finish high school band and never play their instruments again? Here I’ve found it’s easy to get involved in just about any area of interest, and that includes arranging an open pep band day.

The moment the buzzer sounded, marking the end of the JV game, and Mr. Potter called for the roll off, I was filled with excitement. The fight song was just as I remembered it, and from my seat it sounded awesome. Every section of the band was well represented, and a full crowd of Holyoke fans stood and clapped along.

Over 30 people played in the pep band that night, and many were adult musicians. For me it felt like a time machine had taken me back. My former band director, Mrs. Wiebers, and several of my classmates brought their instruments along to replay some of our favorite tunes.

Based on some of the chatter I heard, for some of the earlier graduates, this pep band was the first time they had played in many years. Don’t worry, I won’t take a guess at just how many years—or decades—it had been.

I sure am glad I had a chance to visit with former classmates and to play my saxophone again, and I know many of those who played Friday night were just as excited as I was. I heard more than once that people wish they could play with the band more often, and just for the record, the HHS pep band is always open to visitors—even if they are a little rusty.

When I think about the fun I had at that basketball game, it reminds me that I have a rather unique opportunity living in Holyoke. I like to write, and the Enterprise continually allows me to write, regardless of my corny sense of humor. On Wednesday nights I like to play games and fellowship with my friends, and the high schoolers in FCA never seem bothered by my joining their activities.

In high school, our jazz band included a teacher, Mr. Ottem, and Larry Stroh was one of the most influential community members in the drama department.

From visiting with Velma Biddle, I know she loves the theater, and for a number of years she reviewed the high school productions for the newspaper.

Last week I was fortunate to visit with Maury Kramer, and I learned about how he gets to act on his love of music every week through his involvement with the select choir.

Looking back on my life, as I grew up in Holyoke, I can’t even begin to name all the community members who were involved in one way or another. Parents who love to bake stand out in my memory of holiday parties in grade school, and some with an affinity for sports always made field day a memorable experience.

It really does amaze me how many places there are to get involved in Holyoke, no matter what your area of interest is. And more often than not, getting connected is as easy as asking. Most organizations I’ve been a part of are eager to welcome community volunteers.

As I’ve told many of the pep band alumni who want to play again, you just have to make it happen. The opportunity is there, and you simply have to take advantage of it.

In Friday’s pep band, the visiting musicians had a chance to play the instruments and songs they love. High school band members got to experience a fuller, more diverse pep band. And those at the game heard their school song played with renewed energy, knowing the band supports the athletes.

See, when someone takes the initiative to make cool things happen, everyone can benefit.