To be completely honest, I would have quit band years ago if I wasn’t scared of missing out. It wouldn’t have felt right to give up on it, even though, at the time, I didn’t see its benefit. But, I stayed, and, for that, I am grateful. Seeing a group of hundreds of infinitely unique teenagers, bound by their common drive and desire to impress thousands, is remarkable. It’s the quintessential example of the unifying power of hard work. What makes the MI Band so accessible is that the utmost concern of the program has nothing to do with music. I have never been a great musician, but I am a hard worker, and I fell in love with band. I fell in love with the commitment to be uncomfortable and grow because of it.
One of my fondest memories of growth through discomfort was in preparation for the Tournament of Roses New Year’s Day Parade in Pasadena, California. Following a substantially large amount of time of practicing our field show, our 285 member band boarded buses and headed off to the Boeing Factory in Everett. I remember marching hours-worth of circles around the enormous, frosted parking lot on the windy December Saturday afternoon. I looked across the horizon at the endless faces of people that would never otherwise have been together. But we were exactly where we wanted to be. We were competitive, fierce, and desperate to get better, to be great.
I understand that there are a lot of programs in the school district that are important to students. Many of those programs I was not a part of, so I cannot attest to them. But what I can attest to is that, a semester into college, the thing that I miss most from high school is the band. I miss connecting with people from wholly different walks of life and uncovering our commonalities. I miss the openness and the confidence that the group and the directors inspired in us. And, most of all, I miss the feeling that, above all else, the rest of the band was there for me and loved me for who I was.
~ Will Atkinson, Class of 2021