Hard work, dedication recipe for nationally recognized PHS band


Hugh McMillan, KP News

Peninsula High School’s Marching Band represented the State of Washington at the national Independence Day parade in Washington, DC, in 2010 under director Ricky Badua.

This year, the school has a new bandleader, Justin Ehli, a no-nonsense yet humorous leader who is disciplined but not bossy.

Peninsula Band Booster Glenna Nelson said, “Monday and Tuesday, practice started at 8 a.m., then lunch, and ended at 5 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. until lunch, more work, dinner served by volunteers, more drills until 9 p.m. Thursday, the same, but, by 9 p.m. they’d pretty much learned all the choreography and drills for the show. Friday, another 13-hour day working on perfection. Dinners came from Spiro's, Qdoba, Tides Tavern, and Papa Johns.”

Saturday the kids arrived at 8 a.m., practiced all day, then, at 7 p.m. gave their parents the thrill of a lifetime.

“They work hard and don’t give up until instructors and kids are happy with what they’ve done,” said Nelson.

To self-declared “band geek” Michaela Crown, a piccolo playing junior, “band is a home away from home. We work hard and learn a lot from staff but have fun with each other. Even under a new director everyone meshed together as family. I was impressed by how smoothly it went this year even though our new director hasn't done marching band before! It was a lot of pressure on us to make sure the incoming were brought up to speed; freshmen caught on really fast and things ran smoothly.”

Booster Edward Berntsen said, “Ehli has a playful easy-going leadership style that draws excellence from each student. He quietly molds a solid growing band program restarted by Badua. Upper-class student leaders bring sometimes-apprehensive freshmen into the band ‘family’ providing personal instruction where needed.”

Percussion and Color Guard students started team practice sessions July 5 guided by percussion instructor Ryan McLain.

This year’s show, “Cirque du Soleil – Quidam!” is a more difficult program than last year’s “Zorro” routine, Berntsen said. “Under command of PHS seniors Drum Major Madison Spencer and assistant Drum Major Sam Shake, field marching occurs while the band plays a complex syncopated musical score and includes unique touches with drum line parts written by McLain, long-time percussion consultant for PHS’ music program.”

The Band will perform at all PHS Seahawk home football games as well as at competitions in Silverdale and Tumwater competing against high schools from across Washington and Oregon. At Seattle Seahawks or Sounders’ games, band members will be working the “Seattle Dogs” stand, #124, raising money for the band.

Ian Carr, PHS Band Booster President, advises: “if you go to www.peninsulaband.com when ordering with Amazon.com, a percentage will go to the PHS Band.”

Berntsen encourages all PHS band alumni and parents to contact Carr, “to join us in supporting this exciting program at: boosters@peninsulaband.com. We accept donations of time or money.”

Band rehearsals are Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. through Aug. 30 at PHS’ Roy Anderson Field. Feel free to attend but please remain off the field.