The Watkins Memorial High School band in Pataskala, Ohio, is in deep financial need after booster club treasurer Ernest Todd Bowers was charged with stealing $67,000 of its funds. In addition to the criminal charges, he and his wife, Kristina, face civil charges.
The two cases claim that Bowers funneled the money, which had been earmarked for the purchase of new instruments, into a personal account.
“The students were shocked, of course, but after we addressed the issue, they just wanted to get back to work on our season,” says Watkins band director Kenneth Hoffman. “That really speaks to the caliber of young people that we have and to their character.”
While the media attention was at times distracting, it also led to increased support for the band, both from the local community and afar. Bob Jacobs, executive director of the Jersey Surf Drum and Bugle Corps heard about this story and got in touch with Drum Corps International, which reached out to Mapex and Columbus Pro Percussion.
This team mobilized for a special presentation at DCI’s Emerald City Music Games on July 28. Representatives from the Jersey Surf, Pacific Crest and Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, along with Columbus Pro Percussion, presented new Mapex drums and a check to members of the Watkins band.
“I was humbled by the community response,” Hoffman says. “The outpouring of support was enough to bring anyone to tears. We cannot thank Keytel Systems, On2 Percussion, Mapex, Vic Firth, Columbus Pro Percussion or any other donors enough.”
“I would like to thank all of our staff members, administration, community, parents and students for their composure in the face of adversity,” Hoffman says.