There's momentum — a rhythm you might say — toward restoring the Aliquippa High School Marching Band.
Last year, when the school band's membership dwindled to just five members, the Aliquippa School District eliminated its music program — both choir and band.
That left a void at Aliquippa Quips home football games. So a group of alumni cobbled together their own band of former students, which the district let perform in the stands on game nights at Carl A. Aschman Memorial Stadium. The five remaining Aliquippa students from the school's folded music program were able to perform along with what was dubbed the Aliquippa Alumni Band.
Under the leadership of Beaver County Symphonic Wind Ensemble Director and Aliquippa alumni Kevin Newton, the Aliquippa Alumni Band, with its five current students, played at football games, parades and pep rallies on the football team's journey to the PIAA 4A Championship.
For game nights, the alumni band played the traditional pre-game show, and throughout the game added fight songs: "Come on Aliquippa," "Fight" and the "Aliquippa Victory Song," plus the Aliquippa High alma mater, "Wave Red and Black."
The high school's cheerleaders handled the halftime show.
"The band was embraced and supported by the football team and the community," said Aliquippa Alumni Band member Denise Drabeck, who recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to purchase new drums for the band.
As of Thursday, the campaign netted 25 donations totaling $1,402 toward a goal of $22,000. The link to donate is gofundme.com/f/purchase-new-drums-for-aliquippa-alumni-band
"That is the current cost of everything needed to get the drum line up to snuff," Drabeck said. "If we can raise the money and place the order by the end of February, we will lock in the current price — it has already gone up $1,000 from several months ago — and with the current six-month processing time we will have the drums in time for the 2022 football season.
"Initially, these drums will be played by the Aliquippa Alumni Band, which will consist of responsible adults who will care for them properly, as well as any current students who will play with the Alumni Band. At which time the band program is reinstated, the drums will be given to the band program for student use."
Aliquippa Schools' Superintendent Phillip Woods said last September the interest shown by the alumni band spurred the district to begin a multi-year effort to restore its music curriculum.
The district began advertising for a part-time music teaching position for the junior high and high schools. Music studies will become part of the junior high curriculum, and an open elective for high school students.
"Being in the band in high school has had a positive effect on my entire life," Drabeck said. "I still play my flute to this day, and it is a great joy to me. It will be one of the greatest joys of my life to help rebuild the music program in the Aliquippa School District so that children who yearn for a musical education will have every opportunity to receive one.
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"Everyone agrees, it's not a football game without the band," Drabeck said.
Scott Tady is the local Entertainment Reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He's easy to reach at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @scotttady.
This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Aliquippa High Alumni Band starts GoFundMe to buy drums