To the Editor — Hazen marching band has more recent history

September 30, 2015

By Contributor

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NEW — 2:50 p.m. Sept. 30, 2015

In reference to the September article “The Beat is Back,” I am extremely pleased Hazen once again has a marching band. However, someone provided Chris Coy with incorrect information when he states, “The Highlanders have gone without one since 1978.”

As president of Hazen High Band Booster Club, 1990-1992, I wish to correct that statement. From 1980 until the mid-1990s, Hazen had a very vibrant music program under the direction of Steve Burpee. During Burpee’s tenure, Hazen had not only a marching band, there was a pep band that played and marched at all Hazen home football games, a pep band for both boys’ and girls’ basketball games, a jazz band and a concert band.

My son was a member of the marching band and the jazz band for four years, graduating in 1992. During that time, Hazen participated each year in the International Band Festival in Abbotsford British Columbia. The competition included both concert and marching band and culminated with a parade of all the bands throughout downtown Abbotsford. Hazen’s jazz band also took part in several statewide Jazz Band competitions each year. My son, along with a number of other of Burpee’s students, continued as members of university and college marching bands.

Taking the band to Abbotsford was an important part of Burpee’s music program and yes, it was expensive. To cover the cost and ensure that every member was able to participate, the Booster Club held several fundraising events, the primary one was the annual Big Band Dance and Silent Auction. In February, for one evening, Hazen’s cafeteria became the Aragon Ballroom, complete with false ceiling and mirrored ball. The Jazz Band played big band-era dance music for three hours. The combined revenue from ticket sales and earnings from the silent auction, combined with other fundraising activities, covered the cost of chartering buses and hotel accommodations for the entire band while in Abbotsford, B.C.

I’m not sure why the music program at Hazen declined, I am glad it is back and it sounds like it is once again in good hands under the direction of Coy.

Paul Meshke, Hazen Band Booster Club

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