Fort on the Field
While the Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park football teams will be mixing it up on the field Oct. 11, seventh- and eighth-grade musicians from Fort Couch Middle School will get the opportunity to mix it up with members of the “Pride of Upper St. Clair” marching band as part of “Fort on the Field.”
The Fort Couch students will be paired with a high school musician, Pantherette or color guard mentor, otherwise known as their “band buddy.” The middle school students will shadow their buddy all evening, marching with the band to the football stadium, playing pre-game cheers in the end zone and joining in the alma mater.
During the game, the middle school students will sit in the marching band section of the stadium, playing songs and cheering for the Panthers.
Melanie Hendrix, vice-president of the USC Band Parents Association (BPA), is excited about the new program, designed to reach out to middle school students. Hendrix explained that in the past, eighth grade students were invited to march with the band, but it was informal. This year, all Fort Couch music students and their parents were invited to a family pizza tailgate held prior to the pre-game activities.
“Parents are the ones driving their kids to practice, and we want them to be informed,” explained Hendix. “We want the parents to understand that marching band is doable for almost any student.”
Hendrix said the association started a recruiting committee this year to reach more students and discuss the benefits of becoming part of the marching band. She said the kids in the marching band are passionate about band and music. Plus, they form valuable relationships and friendships.
Hendrix’s son, Chad, a sophomore in the marching band, said he’s excited about Fort on the Field. “It’s a really great opportunity to show the seventh- and eighth-graders how fun band is and what a great time, we have at games and practices.”
“It’s a great chance to meet a lot of great people,” added Chad.
Chad said he noticed a big drop off in the number of students in the music program between eighth and ninth grade. He thinks if there was a program like Fort on the Field when he was in middle school, then the number of students in marching band would have been higher.
Melanie Hendrix said the idea for Fort on the Field was an effort between her, Karen Boston and Julie Halpner. Boston and Halpner have children at Fort Couch. Hendrix said the administration from both Fort Couch and the high school has been excited and very supportive of the Fort on the Field program. Also supporting the program is the Fort Couch PTA and the USC Athletic Department.
Fort on the Field is being held the same night as USC’s Senior Recognition. As the band salutes graduating seniors Megan Anderson, James Bregenser, Robert Burke, Eileen Carrera, Kirk Egeland, Megan Fairgrieve, Shivani Gosai, Morgan Hubbard, Andrew Humbert, Benjamin Humbert, Hannah Lane, John (Jakip) Lindstrom, Alex Loverich Bernard, Melody MacLachlan, Emily Manolo, Connor McCormick, Julia Piecka, Ailsa Poling, Jenna Ravasio, Megan Reilly, Katelyn Sitar, Taylor Smokonich, Nathalie Unico, Cameron Walker, Emma Waters, Robert Weaver, Virginia White, Matthew Wong and Devan Zalla, it seems like the perfect time to welcome the next generation of students to the Pride of Upper St. Clair Marching Band.