Band, choir boosters thrive despite economic slump

Cookie dough sales and program ads. Car washes and ice cream socials. Dinner entertainment and gift-wrapping. McDonald's coupon books, license plate holders, concession sales, garage sale events and parking cars at the Lavender Festival.

The fundraisers seem endless. Unfortunately, so do the costs of helping run two successful school art programs.

But Sequim's band and choir boosters are charged with making it work. And if their numbers are any indication, that's exactly what they're doing, even in the face of a national economic recession.

For boosters, the desire to see the school programs not only survive but also thrive is obvious.

"We want to see the group succeed and expand - it's a great program," says choir booster secretary Julie Dunbar, last year's booster treasurer who says the choir is doing well thanks to director Stephanie Clark.

Band boosters say they simply want to support Vern Fosket, the band director since 1996.

"Vern is an amazing band director - that's why we do what we do," says band booster treasurer Anne Marie Grey. "We're here because of him."

Good thing, too: Although the Sequim School District picks up crucial costs such as insurance and transportation to state competitions, students are required to pick up a number of other costs. For band students, that includes $22 for shoes and gloves, $23 for a tux shirt, $20 for uniform cleaning fees, $50 for an ASB card, $10-15 per parade and, if they are a freshman, a $45 starters kit. Tack on instrument rental (or purchase), and that number reaches several hundreds of dollars.

Choir students have some similar costs and, instead of instrument costs, some take private lessons.

And then there's the Anaheim trip. The choir and band travel to the Heritage Festival in Southern California on opposite years (the choir in 2008, the band in 2009, etc.), incurring what band boosters estimate is $1,000-per-student fee, up from $500 in 2005. It's a cost school districts don't cover.

The price tag for sending the band to Anaheim in 2007 - about $179,000.

Hence the boosters and all those fundraisers.

But, as band booster president Laurie Campen notes, despite a down year across the board for American businesses and individuals, the community still strongly supports the four high school bands (wind ensemble, percussion ensemble, jazz ensemble and concert band).

Part of the impetus behind having so many fundraisers, band boosters note, is the fact that they are raising dollars for the Heritage Festival this year. With 130 students in the band, nearly each student is slated to make the trip, along with another 45-50 chaperones. In the "off" year, Sequim's band traditionally goes to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - a $200-per-student expense without passport costs.

Dunbar said the choir boosters aren't raising as many funds this year without the Heritage Festival on the horizon. Still, the choir boosters have a strong slate of fundraisers for 2008-2009, including already successful programs with the Tracy Blume and the Olympic Express Band in November and their annual calendar ad sales.

"I think the problem this year is there isn't a big motivator," Dunbar says. "We're due to go (to Anaheim) next year. I would imagine there will be a bigger push."

In 2008, the choir boosters helped send 46 students, nine chaperones and one accompanist to Anaheim for about $57,000. Of that, Dunbar said, the boosters paid about $12,000. Choir boosters also pay for uniforms and added costs from Sequim High School's new swing choir and also help fund Sequim Middle School's four choirs.

Sequim's boosters can also claim some involvement in the band's and choir's successes. In 2008, Sequim High School sent 17 band members and seven choir students to the All-State competition at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, a school record.

"(The director), his jaw just dropped when he found out how many were ours," says Joann Moore, band booster vice president of fundraising.

Sections of the band have won academic state awards in past years as well and both groups traditionally perform well and earn high marks at the Heritage Festival.

But just to get there, Sequim's groups needed a boost.

"We kind of have a handle on what we need to do to survive," Grey says.

"It's nonstop," Moore adds.

"That's how it has to function," Grey says.

For more information about Sequim's booster clubs, contact choir booster Deonne Hanson at 683-9260 or Moore, the band booster, at 683-2461.

Michael Dashiell can

be reached at miked@

Sequim High School band schedule (2008-2009)

_ School concerts

Dec. 16, March 19, June 9

_ Parades

Nov. 28 - Macy's Day Parade (Seattle)

May 9 - Irrigation Festival Parade (Sequim)

May 16 - Rhododendron Parade (Port Townsend)

_ Football games

Sept. 19, Sept. 26, Oct. 3, Oct. 17 (homecoming), Nov. 7

_ Basketball games

Dec. 9, Jan. 6, Jan. 10, Jan. 13, Jan. 16, Jan. 20, Feb. 10, Feb. 17

_ Other events

Sept. 27 - Husky Band Day (Seattle)

Dec. 6 - Jazz Band (Warm Beach)

Feb. 7 - Solo & Ensemble contest (Port Angeles)

March 4 - Adjudication (Port Angeles)

March 26-29 - Heritage Festival (Anaheim, Calif.)

April 24-25 - All-State Solo & Ensemble (Ellensburg)

Feb. 27-28 - Lionel Hampton Festival (Moscow, Idaho)

June 12 - Graduation ceremonies (Sequim)

Sequim High School choir schedule (2008-2009)

Sept. 27 - Gospel choir concert/potluck

Oct. 28 - Concert

Nov. 15 - Concert with Olympic Express Band

Dec. 6 - Warm Beach

Dec. 15 - Christmas concert

Feb. 7 - Solo & Ensemble contest (Port Angeles)

March 25 - Adjudication (Port Angeles)

April 7 - Spring concert

April 24-25 - All-State Solo & Ensemble (Ellensburg)

May 30 - End-of-year concert

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