THS band bound for Cotton Bowl
Last-minute worries are a part of the equation when you're planning a trip for 117 people.
Charles VanMiddlesworth, Tonganoxie band director leading his flock to the Cotton Bowl this week, has been so busy getting ready that he's afraid something will slip his mind.
"I'm really afraid that I'm going to forget all my clothes," he said.
Since March, VanMiddlesworth has been prepping his students, 93 of whom are going, for the Cotton Bowl.
He's had a lot of help in getting ready.
"I've got kids staying after school, wanting to help out and get things ready," VanMiddlesworth said. "I really feel like we're ready to take this on, have lots of fun and represent the community and school as best we can."
Part of the challenge of going has been the music itself. With the band's growth from 20 students three years ago to close to 100 now, the numbers alone would indicate that some of the students haven't had a whole lot of band experience.
"We've really had to focus and concentrate on the music, and I haven't let up at all," he said. "Every day we keep rehearsing and rehearsing and rehearsing. We just have to work hard."
VanMiddlesworth said his students have answered the call.
"They have had to work hard and basically they know that this is something they want to do and they've decided they want to do it and they want to do it the best they can and they're going to do it for themselves because they want to," he said.
The trip begins Thursday, when the students meet at the school just before midnight.
The group will take off in three motor coaches with band instruments, band uniforms, music and traveling gear store beneath.
"It's a real logistical nightmare," VanMiddlesworth said. "We're numbering all the kids' stuff and uniforms all the kids will have ID tags and a lot of parents have made cloth name tags to put on things."
Another logistical hurdle that the band mastered was funding. Students and parents raised about $30,000 for the trip. In addition, the school board gave $8,000 to send the students to Dallas.
Once the group arrives in Dallas on Friday they'll take in some sights, including the Sixth Floor Museum. That night, they will watch the band field show competition.
On Saturday, the students will participate in the concert band and jazz band festivals. And Saturday night, they will rehearse for the pre-game show and half-time shows at the Cotton Bowl, along with 19 other high school bands, 12 of which are from Kansas.
On Sunday, the bands will march in the Cotton Bowl parade and will attend an awards ceremony and dance and dinner.
VanMiddlesworth said the game will be televised on Fox 4. Kickoff, he said is at 10 a.m. on New Year's Day.
"If people want to see Tonganoxie, they probably should watch the pre-game show and the half-time show," he said.
VanMiddlesworth said not every high school band is invited to participate in bowl games.
"One of the biggest things any band can do is go to a bowl game," he said. "That's a real prestigious honor."
Planning for the trip has been exciting, he said.
"The band program is really growing so good, and this will be educational for them," VanMiddlesworth said. "All these kids are going to get their chance to do something like this, and that's what it's all about kids want to be successful and when there's something successful going on, kids want to be a part of it."