Members of the Mountain View High drum line, from left, include McKade Stewart, Nicholas Carmichael, Jason Marcacci and Kenzo Tarii. The band is rehearsing and raising money for the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas parade on Dec. 6. It will be the only band from Gwinnett County in the parade. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
LAWRENCEVILLE — In just the sixth year since the school opened, the Mountain View High band has made a significant stride in being noticed around the region.
The Black and Gold Brigade has been selected to participate in the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Christmas parade on Dec. 6, and the invitation coincides with the band’s outreach priority this year. As part of its participation in the parade, the band’s director, William Owens, set a goal to raise $5,000 to donate to CHOA.
“When we announced it to the kids, they were excited because it’s for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and one of the things we’re trying to do this year is give back to the community,” Owens said. “The families were very much excited about everything, and the school got behind us, and we’re trying to make it a big thing.”
The marching band counts nearly 70 members, and the program includes nearly 150 students.
As part of the application process, the band submitted a photo, a list of previous performances or events it participated in and a video of a performance.
Last year, the 33rd installment of the parade traveled over a new route in Midtown Atlanta. Believed to be the largest Christmas parade in the Southeast, parade organizers have said it attracts more than 300,000 spectators each year.
Drum major Evan Oliver, a junior, said it was an honor to be the only Gwinnett County band selected to participate.
“We’ve been to several big parades, but none like this,” he said. “It’s just a huge honor as the young band we are to be able to be in such a great parade.”
Added senior color guard member Kristen Callaway, “I’m looking forward to the entire thing. I think it’s going to be exciting to be a part of this.”
By last week, the band had raised about $1,500, as Owens committed to complete an Ice Bucket Challenge for several hundred dollars, and the band had distributed buckets around the school for loose change donations.
As part of the program’s growth, it’s gradually performed at larger parades and events, from the Mall of Georgia’s Santabration, to the Dacula Memorial Day parade, to a Christmas parade in Gatlinburg, Tenn. last year.
“Hopefully one day we’ll get in one of the larger national parades, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day, who knows,” Owens said.
The program in June began rehearsing fundamentals for its fall competitive show, and the Christmas parade. Rehearsals will ratchet up in mid-September to prepare for the medley of traditional Christmas songs.
Many of the band members are looking forward to the Battle of the Bands portion of the event where they will compete among schools from Fayette and Barrow counties.
The inclusion is a well-known regional parade that will be broadcast on WSB-TV is another step in the development of the school’s fine arts department that includes chorus, orchestra, theater and dance.
“It’s a huge step for us,” Owens said. “We all work well together and try to push our students to a higher level of performance. For us, this is the biggest performance that we’ve had as far as the marching band being accepted. It’s just a matter of growth, and for a young program, I think we probably will be the smallest program selected, but it’s just a tribute that no matter the size, if your students are dedicated, your families are dedicated, it doesn’t matter what size you are, you can always achieve great things.”