Photography by Kathy Tran.

The sound of the crowd, cramming onto a bus to travel for games and marching to a fully planned, competition-ready show are just a few things that were sorely missed by Lake Highlands High School’s band.

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Met with tons of crowd support at LHHS’ first home game Sept. 10, the band is energized and focused on making it to their first competition in October. They performed about 75% of their show that night, including head drum major Carson Iltis’ favorite part, where the band collapses in a triangle shape at the 50-yard line to play a loud melody.

“It’s just this big blast of energy, of sound, that just blows me away every time,” Iltis says.

The group began practicing in July, with rehearsals all day. They’ve since transitioned to hourly practices in the morning before school starts. 

The band’s new head director, Reagan Brumley, joined only a month before rehearsals started. Brumley is a returning staff member to LHHS and most recently served as the fine arts director at Irving ISD.

The combination of a new director and a return to a regular marching band season sparked a new energy among the band, parents, staff and students. The start was not without its challenges — a third of the band was new to competitive marching after an off season, and the show had to be planned in a matter of weeks. But the spirit coming from the students made all the difference, Brumley says.

“I think we’re just chomping at the bit to come back and get to do what caused them to fall in love with the activity in the first place, which was going to away games and going to contests and getting the entire rich experience that comes with being in a in a great high school band,” says Brumley.

The show is called Assimilated and pulls from different films including the original Terminator, Rim of the World and Tron: Legacy. The color guard act as robots or androids, slowly assimilating the human band into their kind. 

This role is fun for the color guard, captain Destini Williams says, although showing off their rifle tossing skills as a group is the best part of the show routine. Even the simplest parts of being in the marching band are exciting this year, including going to her first pep rally in two years. 

Looking forward, everyone is excited to see how the first full performance will go. From there, the band will dive headfirst into competition season, with four consecutive weekends of regional, area and invitational competitions.

Hitting the road with them each game and competition are the Lake Highlands Area Bands Club parents, who provide meals, decorate props, set up the field and cheer them on. Since the first game this season, the parents felt touched by the response of the crowd, both after their performance and as the game came to a close.

“What has happened is the football team has walked intentionally over … (to) stand down right below where the band is, while the band is playing the alma mater,” says LHABC co-president Leigh Ann Murchison. “I think it is just a very visual indication of how happy they are all to be there together and supporting each other. And it seems small, but it’s not. It means so much to everyone. And it really is a recognition of how much work the band does and how grateful they are to have the band out there supporting them.”

For Brumley, it marks the start of a great season where the goal is not to reach a specific achievement, but to put their all into the show and in representing the band.

“They can just say we did everything within our possible potential, and now the chips fall where they will,” says Brumley.

For head drum major Iltis, being a contender at the state competition is still at the forefront of his mind, but directing the full show has definitely been worth the wait.

“Last year was rough but I think it’s actually made this year so much better,” says Iltis. “It’s given us a reset.”