BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Mena Bearcat Marching Band is raising funds for the purchase of a sousaphone to add to their stellar line-up of talent. Band directors Charles Morgan, Mena High School, and Josh Bradford, Mena Middle School, are leading the efforts to purchase the instrument that will cost an estimated $5,000.
“The greatest thing we do is work with the kids everyday. There is no better feeling than watching students achieve small successes every day; we love it. We get to see our kids start Beginning Band with little to no experience and we get to watch them graduate seven years later. There is something special about that. Very few teachers get to spend seven years with the same kids,” said Morgan.
And during that seven years, Morgan and Bradford are dedicated to teaching the students all that they can. The sousaphone is part of that. Calling the Band Boosters the “saving grace” of the program. Morgan said there isn’t quite enough support behind fundraising for band and this time around, they would like to see a handsome amount be awarded to the hard-working students whose hearts are swelled with Bearcat pride. “The energy that everybody feels when our Bearcats are running for a touchdown, the cheerleaders are doing a cheer, and the band is getting ready to play the fight song. It is our job to do our level best to promote school spirit,” Morgan said. He also pointed out that most people don’t realize how much time it takes to be a member of the Bearcat Band. “Our students spend half of their high school career in band supporting other athletic teams and programs in Mena High School.”
Morgan also said that many do not realize how much money it takes to keep the band going. “We take out $100,000 in instruments and $30,000 in uniforms every time we go out. Every instrument our parents buy and every instrument that the school purchases is an investment in the future of a child.”
In Mena Band, students are taught responsibility, compassion, self-discipline, and the love of music. “Every business in the world is looking for a worker who has all the characteristics that band kids have. In band, students learn the importance of being on time, working as a team, working hard, the quality of pride of their work, how to deal with stress, and showing up every day.” In general, studies show that band students get better grades, have better attendance, are better prepared for college and the workforce, are less likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, and lead happier lives with less depression as opposed to a student who goes to school but with no activities.
“The Mena Bearcat Band has been a tradition of pride and excellence that started when former band director Clyde Bates wrote our school’s alma mater, continued with the legacy of Paul Gray, and still continues today,” said Morgan. He added, “Our kids are an investment in our future and we think in this mad and crazy time in the world, our future is bright.”
To help the tradition continue and support the purchase of the sousaphone, visit their Facebook page, Mena Bearcat Bands, and click on the GoFundMe link, or you can donate directly to the school in care of the Mena Bearcat Band.