You could say this is a transitional time for the Prairie Central music program.
For the first time in more than 20 years, the district has a new band director and a student leadership team has been created to get the kids involved in creating a vision and goal setting.
“We’ve been through a lot of transitional time where things are different and new while we are all still doing the same thing,” explained band director Eric Hall.
This is Hall’s first year teaching at Prairie Central – the same district he graduated from in 1999. He previously taught in Oklahoma, where he attended college and got married. When Hall’s mom, Lesa Kline, retired last year he had the opportunity to return to Fairbury.
The band is trying to engage the public while remaining competitive. Prairie Central High School had a strong marching band season in 2017.
“That’s not necessarily all that matters when we do things, but we sure like to see the kids succeeding in the competitive arena as well,” Hall adds.
The band is trying to focus on its role in the school and community by becoming more involved in various activities. For example, more music is played during football games and the pep band played at more basketball games this year.
“We really wanted to make sure the band was a part of the atmosphere and not a separate atmosphere in itself,” Hall stated.
Tasks of the newly-established leadership team include everything from what the band calendar consists of to what the school’s music department logo should look like. As many students do, the leadership officers learn how to juggle all of their extra-curricular activities with school.
“The good thing about Prairie Central is that we’re able to be in so many different activities but everyone works together,” said Madison McBride, who is also a cheerleader and involved with National Honor Society.
Mallory Bahler agrees, as she participates in volleyball each fall.
“The clubs here are very easy to work with when you need to be at one place, but you obviously can’t always because you’re involved in other things.”
Aaron Herr is involved with jazz, concert and pep band along with the drumline while trying to maintain a part-time job. He feels there is an advantage to being an upperclassman.
“I feel that there is leadership needed throughout the band as a whole and I like seeing when we have students stepping up to help others in need,” Herr said.
It’s no secret school funding in Illinois is in a sad state. When money dries up, school activities often have a hard time surviving. Prairie Central’s music program relies heavily on the generosity of the community.
“The community stepped up in huge ways through donation drives or supporting local fundraisers,” said Hall. “We really have to rely on the community to help us exist.”
As they have for the past several years, the PC Music Boosters are once again conducting a donation drive to help cover the cost of marching and concert band, choir, high school musicals and elementary music. Donations are accepted at every concert the school puts on.
“The concert goers are overly generous. That’s just great to see people come to the concerts and turn around to support the kids like that,” Hall added.