HBCU band alumni and supporters will soon be seeing some new faces in various university band programs in the fall. On Saturday, April 9, band directors from four different universities attended a recruitment fair and forum held at Washington-Marion High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana. There was representation from Alcorn State University, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University and Texas Southern University. The high school students who took part in this event were from East St. John High School in Reserve, LA, Northwest High School in Opelousas, LA, and Washington-Marrion High School.
This was the inaugural year for what will soon become an annual college band day at the high school. “We plan to have the event a little earlier next year so we can include more directors from different schools,” said Tamekia Holliday, director of bands at Washington-Marion High School. In collaboration with Demetrius Gatewood, the Washington-Marion band alumni came up with the idea to host the forum and recruitment event to promote band in the African American community, where it seems to lack the most.
This event included a panel discussion held by the Washington-Marion band staff which focused on the benefits of attending an HBCU, the importance of band in high school, and how budget cuts affect the band in college. After the college band representatives elaborated on these topics, students were given the opportunity to ask questions. The directors also gave a brief description of the band programs at their respective universities and talked about the requirements to become a member of the band.
The discussion lasted a half hour and after it concluded, nineteen high school seniors auditioned and were awarded roughly $120,000 in scholarships. “This event benefits the students because it opens up their minds to other possibilities rather just going towards school that they are already familiar with. It is also used as a motivational tool for the students,” said Holliday.
This event not only benefited the students, it was also an asset to the to the college directors as they continue to build their programs for the fall band season. The overall message from the university directors to the students, was to use band as an outlet to stay out of trouble and get ahead in life. With the help of the alumni, staff, college directors, parents and students, the college band day was successful.