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Cel-e-brate good times — come on

The Kingston High band rocked the stadium during Friday’s homecoming festivities. - Brad Camp/Staff photo
The Kingston High band rocked the stadium during Friday’s homecoming festivities.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photo

Kingston band keeps the crowd groovin’.

KINGSTON — Read this silently so as to not jinx the Kingston High band.

Band Director Adam Campagna was a member of the University of Washington band before returning to Kitsap, and he brought with him a curious tradition.

“There’s one song that were not supposed to say the name of or else it will jinx everything and mess it up,” said junior co-drum major Claire Polson.

She didn’t dare whisper the dreaded name at this reporter’s inquiry.

The band cannot utter the name of the song “Celebration,” (a Kool and the Gang creation, circa 1980-ish) or who knows what may befall them if they do.

But they’ve goofed up and the title has escaped their lips, so perhaps some traditions are just that: superstitions.

“It’s kind of a jinx thing. You just don’t say it because you don’t want to jinx the band or the team,” Campagna explained. “Some slip up and say it and the kids go crazy when they do. They’ll say, ‘Oh you didn’t just say it.’”

But it all fits perfectly with the sporting culture they’re an intricate part of, and it’s just one way the KHS band likes to have a little fun while they get down and boogie.

On any given home football game night the 65 members of the band hit the turf with an armory of instruments — saxophones, clarinets, trumpets, flutes, trombones, tubas — giving a dazzling performance to keep the crowd fired up and supporting the Bucs’ football team.

It takes the effort of two parts, band and cheer squad, to keep the crowd and football team boppin’.

“We just want to pump everybody up, that’s our job together with the cheerleaders,” Polson said. “If the crowd isn’t into it then the football team is just blah and they need support from the crowd too.”

And who knew that “pumping up” is a part-time job, in addition to being athletes and all-around students themselves? Last year four three-sport athletes were on the band and this year there’s five football payers, five cross country runners and two soccer players.

They attend a week-long, 12-hours-a-day band camp in August. There’s two band classes at KHS and each class prepares five days a week an hour each day throughout the year. Sectional leaders often schedule sectional practices for an hour or so each week. Then tack on two to four outside rehearsals from 6-8:30 p.m. on the field during game weeks and individual practice sessions at home.

“Practicing at home is like their homework,” Campagna said. “Band at the high school level is like a part-time job. It takes a lot of time and dedication.”

But to memorize 15 to 20 songs and four different field routines, where each set has a certain number of steps which must be taken at just the right pace and precise distance, requires a hefty helping of preparation.

But it’s all worth it on game nights.

“It’s super, super fun,” Polson said. “But there’s a lot of pressure because if we mess up and the band follows it messes it all up. But it’s really fun because the crowd is all energized.”

On game nights the band stays after school to get ready. They always eat dinner together — the homecoming feast was Subway — then they put on their outfits and game faces.

Polson demonstrated the quasi-serious warrior expression, contorting her face into a look similar to Derek Zoolander’s “Blue Steel.”

“A band game face is not very serious at all,” said Polson who’s played the flute since sixth grade. “It needs to make people laugh and get people in to it.”

Campagna selects the songs the band plays, and during a game the number to be performed is based on how much time they’ve got — is it a full time out or just a 30-second one? Is it near the end of the quarter? What type of mood needs to be set?

Polson said her favorite is “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and the band’s choice song is “Jungle Boogie,” as it involves dancing.

“Our job is to really support the needs of the moment and really keep that place electrified and make sure everybody is having a good time,” Campagna said. “I’ve got one of the most dedicated and talented groups of musicians I’ve seen in a long time. When it really comes down to it, they always come through.”

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