Facing deadline, marching band raises 30k in three days, saves final competition

October 29, 2019 — by Sofia Jones

From Oct. 22-24, members of the marching band frantically tried to raise money as they unexpectedly learned that their final competition in Fresno this weekend was in danger of being canceled as the result of $30,000 shortfall. In the end, many families came up with asked-for donations and alumni even chipped in with donations. 

Because members of the marching band worked on their show “Timeless” for months, they were excited to get the chance to perform in a large stadium for their final competition: the Fresno Sierra Cup at Fresno State University on Nov. 2. This excitement was dampered when the ensemble heard  about the potential cancellation on Oct. 22. 

At public schools, students and their parents are not mandated to contribute to the marching band funds or any other program; however, their donations pay for members’ and volunteers’ rides on coach buses, accommodations and meals for an overnight competition. 

Music director Michael Boitz said approximately 40 percent of marching band members had not fully paid their encouraged share of the funds for the season, meaning that the donations of paying students needed to be larger. 

“Most people don’t really realize this, but the marching band is a huge financial undertaking,” Boitz said. “Just the coach buses we take are at least $5,000 for three or four buses, every single time.”

Additionally, less participation in recent fundraisers has impacted the band’s budget. One of the biggest annual fundraising events is the cookie dough sale, but as fewer students participated this year, the substantial funding that usually comes from it was lessened.

Although Boitz and other staff members said they were willing to pay out of pocket to help fix the imminent problem, they felt that this would be putting a Band-Aid on a much larger problem. 

Instead, Boitz encouraged parents who had not donated yet to do so and opened up the possibility of students using creative means to fundraise on their own. Sophomore Color guard member Kate DiNucci even created a GoFundMe on Oct. 22 in an effort to be able to attend the competition. 

“Everyone has put all of their time and effort into this season, and we’ve been practicing since before school even started,” DiNucci said. “This season was short even before the final competition got cut, so I wanted to do everything in my power to try to make it happen.”

The GoFundMe closed after only one day after raising $915. DiNucci closed it out of worry that the money raised might have potentially conflicted with the SHS guidelines on fundraising, so the money was refunded.

Boitz had sent out an email explaining the dire trip situation to parents who had not fully paid the suggested donation. Many parents ended up paying, and the number of families who had not donated in full dropped from 40 percent to about 10 percent. Many alumni also donated once they heard the news, which also helped reduce the deficit. 

Boitz attributes much of the problem this year to a lack of knowledge from the parents as to how crucial the donations are and what they fund. He plans to combat this next year by more rigorously letting parents know how important donations are. 

“We need to start to educate the parents as soon as they come to the high school,” Boitz said. “I think they somehow get told that they don’t really need to contribute, so they think it’s optional and that the money will be found somehow if they don’t help out.”

Through late October, the band has had a fairly successful season. At its first competition at the Cupertino Tournament of Bands, it placed first in its division. At the second competition at Dublin High School, it placed third out of five bands in its division. At the third competition at Amador Valley High School this past weekend, it placed second to Amador Valley in every category. 

Despite the threatened cancellation of the final competition, senior drum major Sean Ryan views this season as his favorite out of all four years he’s competed with band in high school. 

“It was really nerve-wracking thinking that the season was going to end early,” Ryan said. “I’m glad we get to perform it one last time. Even if things hadn’t gone well, I’ll always have thought of this season as a success.”