After a 10-year hiatus, the Western Hills High School Marching Band in Cincinnati has found a way to march again, thanks to alumni fundraising and support.
“It was brought back mostly at the urging of alumni who were unhappy that the tradition was gone,” says Kent Stine, band director. “They put forward funding for instruments and a band director, and we’ve been building it ever since.”
The alumni spent several years raising enough money to restart music education. The school chose to build the program with beginning band, so this was the first year with enough students to field a marching unit. Stine co-directs the band with Gilbert Dater High School’s band director Lee Black. The two schools share a campus and now a marching ensemble.
“The best part has been just seeing the love that some of the kids are developing for it, seeing the enjoyment they get out of it,” Stine says. “It’s been great seeing the response from the parents in the community. As of this moment there are only three high schools in Cincinnati Public Schools that have a band to speak of.”
The alumni association provided approximately 70% of the new instruments, the marching drums and equipment, new uniforms and the band director salary.
“We have a very strong and generous alumni foundation,” Stine says. “The band is not the only thing they contribute to. We’re very fortunate to have them, especially in the general climate of budget problems.”
In its first season, the band performed at football games and local parades, even winning a trophy for “Best Band” at the Harvest Home Fair Parade in September.
“I marched in this parade when I was a kid,” Stine says. “I didn’t think we would have gotten all this attention. It really is fantastic for the students to realize that people are noticing them.”