Band battles for fun, money

The KHS band performs during a Buccaneers football game in the fall. - File Photo
The KHS band performs during a Buccaneers football game in the fall.
— image credit: File Photo

On the field, Christopher O’Morchoe leads the percussion section of the Kingston High School band. The throb of his bass drum sets the tempo. Though it’s difficult to tell by listening, O’Morchoe’s instrument is slowly falling apart.

“When we got our first percussion drums, they came with cheap accessories,” said the senior, who has been the percussion leader for two years.

Those accessories, such as drum harnesses, are still being used today. Students have run into problems with broken or damaged instruments, which have caused frustrations, he said.

Because of the necessity of more funding and the spirit of competitions, KHS Band Director Adam Campagna entered his band in the “Battle of the Bands” competition. The competition, sponsored by the classic rock radio station KZOK, awards the band with the most votes $10,000. The band took third place last year, winning $2,500.

“We’re the only school in the district participating in this,” Campagna said. “We get to represent the districts strong music programs.”

Prize money could be useful, but Christopher O’Morchoe said for him, it’s not as much about winning as it is about fun.

“Our band director does anything he can. One of his major strengths is trying new things,” he said.

Like other fine arts programs in the North Kitsap School District, the KHS band relies on money raised by booster programs, fundraisers and ASB money accumulated through things such as ticket purchases.

The KHS band and choir is budgeted to receive $3,000 from the districts NERC budget for the 2010-2011 year. Last year, it received $4,884 from the NERC budget and $5,490 from its extra-curricular budget—for transportation.

The KHS Fine Arts Booster program helps raise additional money for student trips, such as the Disney trip last year, which cost $60,000.

Though funding is short, O’Morchoe said there are often volunteers to help with funding where needed, but it has become more difficult recently. The booster program supports all programs under the fine arts category including: band, choir, studio and performing arts.

The KHS Fine Arts Booster program is seeking new members to help with fundraising, but O’Morchoe said there has not been much interest. Funding from the program is used for everything from repairing instruments to providing transportation.

Transportation is the biggest cost of concern, said booster member and KHS computer technician Riachard Wendt. Because the band must rent school busses, even a trip to North Kitsap High can cost $600.

Last year, the KHS ASB spent $49,263 for out-of-area field trips. If the money does not cover the total cost, it becomes an out-of-pocket expense for individual students and families.

The North Kitsap High School band program has budget worries of its own.

The program was given money to replace 20-year-old uniforms, but half of that money was a loan. The loan must be paid back to the district in the next two years, which means more fundraising.

“Any time I find a fundraiser that doesn’t involve selling candy door-to-door I spring for it,” Peters said.

The NK Fine Arts Booster program raises about 75 percent of the total money the NK band receives through the year. Because the band has increased from 80 students to 130 since Peters began directing four years ago, that money is continuing to be stretched.

Battle of the Bands

For more information on voting, visit the official Battle of the Bands website or the Kingston High School website.

The Kingston Band is number 17 on the list.

Voting is done through cell phone texting.

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