The Uproar

The Good, The Bad, and The Band

A recent Marching Band incident that shocked its members is now bringing them together in support of tolerance

photo by Somya Thakur

photo by Somya Thakur

Somya Thakur and Aydan Klobuchar

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The 2018 Allegheny Valley Bands Festival, unlike most band events, was on a weekend. The AV festival is an amazing way for students across the Allegheny Valley to listen to other bands’ shows and watch their marching styles. Various schools, small and large, were in attendance.  Little did anyone expect what was to come. 

Band in and of itself is a “band” of misfits: we all don’t exactly fit in with others most of the time, but together we can blast people off their seats in the Newman Stadium. Band kids are known to be accepting and to readily help others out. For both of us, it has been the Marching Band that has helped piece us together to become who we are and what our characters are. Many who are new to the district or freshman get to know their upperclassmen and their classmates through Band Camp and throughout the season.

Thankfully, the actions of the few do not represent the views of the majority.”

At times when games are far away, it feels as though the band is the student section for the Football Team. While many of us may not admit to liking football or know what is going on, we love to cheer our team on and show others what Tiger pride really is. Cheering through all of these games together and marching in parades really creates a sense of camaraderie throughout the Band no matter what instrument you play. Mr. Stefan and Mr. Baldanzi have put their hearts and souls into the Marching Band and care for all the students that are a part of the “Band family.”  

At the festival on the 22nd, after Shaler’s band had given an energetic performance, the intermission had begun and so the North Allegheny Tiger Marching Band left to warm up. After warm-ups, a few students decide to break rank and talk with their friends.

Eyewitnesses report seeing a circle forming and what started out as an innocent game of duck duck goose would soon take a turn for the worse. Students reported that the game soon took on the name “White, White, Black.” Some in the circle did not know what was going on when others were playing this as the objective was to be passed on. Many of the students that found out what was going on immediately left and went to tell those in charge of the band. The game was broken up, but those minuscule minutes of the game would soon turn into hours as word of the highly inappropriate event was passed around the Band.

The Band still went on and played after this conflict, many not knowing what had taken place a few moments before. The fact that something like this would happen today simply baffles us. Why would anyone think such a disrespectful and ignorant game is acceptable? How did they think this would be funny?

North Allegheny does not have the most diverse population, but students are generally accepting. When something like this happens, it angers not only those who were targeted but also every member of our community who values tolerance and equality. Something that has racial connotations like this can have massive effects on a community and can divide clubs and other activities.

During the first practice after the festival, all Band members and Auxiliaries were given a speech. Many felt as though the connotations did very little to reference what happened that Saturday night. Instead of focusing on school reputation, the adults in charge should be making this a place for all the students to feel safe. After all, we the student body often spend more time in these halls then we do in our own homes. 

We had the chance to ask mellophone player Alana Porche about her interpretation of the message that was given to the Band. “What happened that night was disgusting,” the junior said. “While I realize that not every person in the circle knew what they were doing, there were certainly enough to get the racist game started.  Unfortunately, there’s a small minority of Band members whose actions are so boldly inappropriate that I can’t say the majority of students were surprised.  What was less shocking was the administrative message given to the Band. There were a few good points about respect, but the overarching theme was how much of an embarrassment it was for the school. This “game” was far more than an embarrassment. It was another example of racism at North Allegheny and should be addressed as such.”

In the Band program, there are more opportunities to find the groove you like to jive to than other arts programs in NA. The various ensembles are led by our fearless leaders Mr. Stefan and Mr. Baldanzi, who at any given time would go to bat for any of their kids. They also are great role models that lead by example. For instance, as soon as Mr. Stefan heard of this incident he jumped into action by investigating what happened, then calling almost every member into his office for interviewing, and finally going to the administration to work up the chain of command and get a resolution to this serious issue.

Role models and leaders like Stefan and Baldanzi not only help the Band but help shape the kids in the Band to become better people. Thankfully, the actions of the few do not represent the views of the majority. There have been times where we have felt disconnected as a unit, but Mr. Baldanzi is always there to tell us to keep our heads up and Mr. Stefan reminds us to “row the boat.”

About the Writer
Somya Thakur, Social Media Director

Somya Thakur is a junior at North Allegheny Senior High. Somya loves to listen to a large variety of music, especially movie soundtracks. She is a part of the North Allegheny Marching band and plays tenor saxophone and bass clarinet. She loves surfing Youtube for videos to binge watch and is an expert of procrastination.

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