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SSISD Trustees Asked To Consider Transportation Needs Of Band Program

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The Sulphur Springs High School Jazz Band serenaded the school trustees this week with several numbers, which not only showed off the fun and growth of the program, but also showcased a few outstanding soloists as well.

Sulphur Springs High School Jazz Band

They’ve included some of the other SSISD fine arts students into their acts as well. Rose Oyad, who is advancing to State UIL Solo and Ensemble competition as both a soloist and part of an ensemble, lent her vocal talents to the act Monday night during the jazz band’s performance for SSISD board.

The students this year are attending in two jazz festivals, one at Tyler Junior College March 5-6 and another at the University of Texas-Arlington March 20-21.

Following the Jazz Band performance, SSISD Director of Bands Spencer Emmert asked the board to consider investing in new transportation to meet the growing needs of the SSHS band

“Basically, we are in desperate need for a bigger capacity transport for our band and our band equipment,” Emmert told the school board.

Emmert explained that marching band and competition has evolved of over the last several years, with a required prop schematic, elaborate front ensemble, percussion ensemble on the sidelines, growing color guard program, and full electronics amplification sound. And, Emmert pointed out the band program as a whole is grow.

“Looking down the road, we are hoping to move to what most of other groups are at right now. That’s having a semi to move our equipment. That sounds amazing, but that’s really what the status quo is nowadays,” the director of bands told the school board at their regular meeting Monday night.

Currently, the band program takes three vehicles to marching events: a box truck that SSISD purchased several years ago, band trailer that is about 25 years old and “barely on the road still,” and a rented U-Haul box truck.

“So, we were running three trucks the whole time. Our box truck, as it sits right now, is in and out of commission. I was on the side of the road for one time to the Frisco game, having to reset the transmission. So, there are some issues there with that,” Emmert said.

The new uniforms the district purchased in the last year are brought on a truck and issued to band members upon arrival at the performance destination. This helps keep them as fresh as possible and make them last longer. Uniform is one aspect they band is judged on at marching competition. The band needs a means to get the uniforms there in a timely manner in good condition.

“A lot of the time when we get to competitions, the parking crew does not know how to park us because they are used to a semi. They have all the semis parallel parked. It’s all nice and neat. We come in with three oddly shaped vehicles that have to have unloading directions,” Emmert said.

Several of the bands that also play at the games SSHS attends arrive with semis filled with their students’ equipment and needs. The semi can be custom equipped to open from multiple sides to allow more access for quicker unloading and set up as well. As it is, SSHS utilizes all of the student and volunteers possible to do so, but are limited in how many can be involved due to the limited space in the vehicles.

A customized two-floor semi would provide space for storage, secure the equipment and uniforms so they arrive in good condition and allow more people access for loading and unloading. Even color guard items can have “belly boxes” or drawers to store their equipment as well.

Emmert said while some Dallas-Fort Worth area districts can afford a rental contract for the busing service, most school districts buy their semi outright to get their band gear where it needs to go. In districts that have more than one high school, some have purchased a semi trailer for each.

Emmert said based on the low mileage for band travel, if SSISD decided not to invest the full amount of a brand new semi, another option to consider would be finding a semi with low mileage and purchasing it at auction.

A few staff or dedicated parents/band supporters would need the requisite license to drive a semi and trailer filled with band equipment. Emmert said he could attain his easily, as it doesn’t require much more than is needed to attain a license to operate a school bus.

SSISD Director of Bands Spencer Emmert discusses transportation needs of the band program with SSISD Board of Trustees during their regular February board meeting.

Emmert said his dad has the requisite license and has indicated a willingness to donate his time to drive a semi band trailer if one is acquired for the program. Staff could be made available too. A lot of other schools too utilize band parents and supporters who have the proper paperwork to drive a semi.

The band director said other programs could benefit from a semi as well, including theater programs.

SSISD Trustee John Prickette said he “can see the need” for a band trailer.

Lamb said while he’d asked Emmert to present the matter to the trustees this week for discussion only, he and Emmert hope to have a proposal for the board to actually consider for action in the next two months.

Being able to tell the students that a new trailer is on the way would be a huge morale booster for the students, who see the other districts arrive in these vehicles at events like the one they will be participating in next month.

See the Fine Arts Calendar on the SSISD website for additional information about upcoming performances and activities. Tune into KSST Radio 1230 AM, visit our website or check out Simply Sulphur Springs app for news on Sulphur Springs ISD band, fine arts and school reports.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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