• Roger Sims, Journal Staff

Jayhawk band relies heavily on sophomores and freshmen

Updated: Nov 8

The Jayhawk-Linn Marching Band, including both high school and junior high students, performed in Saturday's Sugar Mound Arts & Crafts Festival parade in Mound City. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

MOUND CITY – As the annual Sugar Mound Arts & Crafts Festival parade moved west on Mound City’s main drag, a band that had been warming up for more than an hour began to play the familiar “I’m a Jayhawk” fight song claimed by both the University of Kansas and a slightly smaller school, Jayhawk-Linn High school.

At the Homecoming parade earlier in the week, the Jayhawk Marching Band was decidedly less formal, many of the musicians dressed in t-shirts and shorts.

On Saturday it was different, at least for the high school musicians. Dressed in the black and red marching uniforms with the school mascot on front, the high school members looked the part of the band. Behind them were the junior high musicians, who wore street clothes but whose performance added to that of the older students. Playing together, the band's instrumentals were tight.

Members of the JLHS Marching Band include, front from left, Milo Donnelly, band director Rachel Wilson, Bri Seely; second row, Lily Casey, Marlyn Gandara, Alieah Gillis, Cierra Lindsey, Callie Holt, Bertha Becerra; back row, Emily Johnson, Kelsie Poole, Gabriel Springer, Jacen Taylor, Emory Bukkila, Adeline Randall, and Alex Nation.

Their performance caught the attention of Prairie View’s band director Jeffrey Russelll, who later commented how full and accomplished the band sounded even though its numbers were about half those of Prairie View’s band.

Perhaps even more noteworthy is that the band, under the direction of Rachel Wilson, is comprised mostly of sophomores and freshmen.

“That sophomore class is just awesome,” said Wilson. She noted that, because of pressures on juniors and seniors to fulfill graduation requirements or take dual-credit college courses while still in high school, it is difficult to keep them in the band through those upper grades.

However, there are a few band members who want to keep with music through high school and be in a collegiate marching band. One of her musicians has a sister who plays in the Pittsburg State University’s marching band; another wants to be a music teacher, Wilson said.

Although the band’s performance in Saturday’s parade gave the appearance of a well-oiled marching unit, Wilson said she wasn’t going to compete in any marching contests this fall. Instead, the band will concentrate on performances such as the Veteran’s Day program and the winter concert with an eye toward music contests in the spring.

But the band members are also performing as a pep band when basketball season starts.

“They’ve been working on their music, so when it comes to basketball season, they’ll be loud and proud,” Wilson said.

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