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franklin county times

Many groups offer aid to PCHS band

It’s a well-known fact that sports activities can be a major part of a high school student’s life but what some people don’t realize is that other extracurricular activities can have just as big an impact, and band is no exception.

For many of the students in Phil Campbell High School’s band program, band is their life. From the moment they get up until the moment they go to sleep they are practicing their instruments or routines or they are hanging out with friends from band who feel more like family.

So when the deadly E-F5 tornado ripped through the small town on April 27 and completely destroyed the school’s band room and most everything inside, it was a devastating time for these students and supporters who spent most of their time in that building.

“We practically lost every instrument that we had except for some of the percussion instruments,” Phil Campbell’s band director, Bobby Patrick, said. “We lost equipment, we lost all our music – it was unreal.”

With such a hard blow, the future, especially the immediate future, of the band program seemed to hang in the balance. Patrick had estimated that it would take nearly $200,000 to replace the instruments and equipment lost to the tornado and in a time where funding is practically non-existent, that number seemed almost impossible to reach.

“Some of the instruments that were lost were school-owned instruments and some of them were the students’ instruments,” Patrick said. “So we started getting the word out that we needed instruments and different businesses, organizations and individuals started coming to our aid.”

Alabama Music in Florence and Counts Brothers Music in Muscle Shoals started collecting instruments to donate to their students. To date, Patrick said they have received donated instruments from 70 different organizations.

Additionally, Patrick said the organization has received monetary donations that span from the $7,000 the received from Oak Mountain High School’s band program in Birmingham all the way down to $10 individual donations. He said they even received a $2,500 check straight from Los Angeles from legendary singer Neil Young.

“Every little bit helps. We’ve received donations for big stuff and we’ve received donations for smaller things and we’ve knocked the total down to where we need about $90,000 or $95,000 more to get us to where we need to be,” Patrick said. “We are very appreciative of all of those who have donated so far and it’s impressive that we’ve gotten our total down to where it is now, but we still have a ways to go. We still need help.”

For students like sophomore drummer Luke Hurst and senior baritone player Nicole Swinney who have both been in band since fifth grade, not getting the band program back on its feet is simply not an option.

“When I saw that the band room had totally been destroyed, it just ripped my heart apart,” Hurst said. “That was like my second home. I have so many memories there. This program means so much to me and I just don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have band.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge, but we’ve kept as positive as we can about it. We’re just going to have to do it. We just have to make it happen.”

“Band is really like a part of me,” Swinney said. “We’re like a big family. I’m very thankful to the people who have donated so far and I hope people will continue to help us.”

To make a monetary donation to the Phil Campbell High School band program, mail the donation to Franklin County Board of Education, Attn: Phil Campbell Band Program, C/O Carla Knight, P.O. Box 610, Russellville, AL 35653. Checks should be made payable to Phil Campbell Band.

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