By John High
Photo Credit Rena Laverty
We hardly ever associate football fields with fashion. Fashion is often associated with celebrities, Hollywood, and the red carpet. However, fashion is being brought to the 100 yard green turf field. Marching out in the fall of 2018 will be the Lee M. Thurston Marching Band in their brand new grey plumed blue on black uniform under the direction of Edward Lucius.
Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, Band Director Mr. Lucius worked diligently towards a mission set out to redesign the uniforms for the Marching Band that will make a bold statement without going out of trend. Mr. Lucius who is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Educational Leadership has directed bands at Thurston since 1989. He positively impacts his students by teaching them the importance of leadership through his wisdom of life lessons while teaching the art of music.
“Mr. Lucius is the teacher who will hold you accountable for whatever you are doing wrong. He doesn’t just teach you about dots on the page; he will teach you lessons that you can take with you in your journey throughout life,” said Valentina Giraldo, 8th grader.
The Lee M. Thurston Marching Band has evolved since Mr. Lucius’ arrival in 1989. Before that, Marching Band never performed outside of Thurston. Previously, the band learned new shows for every football game, hardly moved, and members did not need their music memorized. Years later in 1995, the marching band joined Michigan Competing Band Association (M.C.B.A.) which is a non-profit organization that aims towards the importance of instrumental music in Michigan schools all across the state. M.C.B.A. runs a competitive marching competition during the fall of each year. Schools that are members of this organization are placed into groups called “flights” which are based on school enrollment. Here they compete against other schools in front of adjudicators, but most importantly, competing with themselves to perfect their prime show throughout the season for the cleanest run through at the end.
The Thurston Marching Band has primarily competed in Flight 3 competition and have qualified and attended State Championships which takes the top 12 bands in each flight for the past 22 years placing all over the scoreboard. The Marching Band performs a diverse range of shows from theatrical such as Phantom of the Opera (1999), intellectual such as Labyrinth (2010), and conceptual shows such as The Universe (2016).
In 2015, the band broke their school’s history by receiving 3rd place at State Championship held at Ford Field with a score of 90.425 in their co-commissioned show Take to the Skies.
The program is awe inspiring but the last time the Marching Band was granted new uniforms was in 2006. The current uniforms are dingy, faded, and worn out. Shakos are damaged with irreplaceable parts and broken chains.
“There are sentimental values in the old uniforms. In them we have done very well and made our school and community proud. People became accustomed to seeing us in them; the new uniforms start the new leg of the marching band’s new journey, and I look forward to it,” explained Lucius.
The quest marched off by designing a uniform for the marching band using the company Orefice LTD, a Michigan based company which specializes in band and choir uniforms and accessories. Once a sample was created, it was then presented to Superintendent Brian Galdes with meetings on several occasions.
With the Board of Education’s support, new uniforms discussion took place on ways to save money and what needed to be purchased. The result was a proposal not to start from scratch, but instead by replacing the worn down coats, shakos, plumes, and gauntlets while reusing the current shako boxes, bibbers, and garment bags which are in good condition.
The grand total was $33,000 with the decision to purchase new bibbers in a couple more years.
On January 8, 2018, the South Redford Board of Education approved the proposal for the marching band uniforms.
“I just want to thank Mr. Lucius for all of his hard work to get the students these well needed marching band uniforms and thank you to the board and Mr. Galdes for approving the purchase. It is very appreciated not only by the students but also by the band boosters,” said Kimberly Sternbenz, Thurston Band Booster President.
Students are highly eager for the upcoming season to be the first to wear the new uniforms.
“As a veteran member of the marching band with a couple of years left, I am immensely excited to perform in our new uniforms,” said Sophomore Evan Hubbard.
Many members remember watching older siblings march in the uniforms.
“I’m actually really excited about the new uniforms for this upcoming season. I’ve marched for four years now and have been in those uniforms for what feels like an eternity. I’m really excited to see what they look like and how much they’ll match,” said Junior Devan Robinson.
Fans, parents, and alumni of the Thurston Marching Band may not be able to recognize the group in the fall of 2018 as they march on to the field in their brand new grey plumed blue on black uniform.
”I am very excited to see the new uniforms on the field! I marched in the “old” uniforms for five years and even though it will be strange to see a “new band” on the field, I am very excited for the younger students. I know how hard Mr. Lucius has worked to get these new uniforms and I’m happy that it is finally happening! I look forward to coming back as an alumni and still being blown away by the marching band, even with a new look,” Senior Caitlyn Cooper.