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Kennedale
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

In off year Wildcat Band plays for pride, honor and tradition

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In band parlance, this is an off year for 3A state marching competition meaning that the Marching Wildcats will not be returning to Austin this year. ?That doesn?t bother the current Marching Cats. They are already at work on this year?s program and are planning to add to the band?s winning tradition.
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That tradition sets a high bar. The Wildcat Marching Band has been to Austin in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. The band was a TMEA Honor Band State Qualifier in 2010 and an Honor Band State Finalist in 2012 ranking 7th in the state; and the Wildcat Band has won the UIL Sweepstakes Award 7 of the last 8 years. {{more}}
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Erol Oktay, KISD Director of Bands who is in his 12th year, has another goal for this year. While they have won 1st place in UIL competition, the Wildcat Band has never won a 1st place in an invitational competition. This year they will be in two invitationals and he wants to bring home the gold trophy in at least one of those.
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For the uninitiated, to be in a band program of this caliber, it means long hours of practice, dedication, practice and more practice. Officially the full marching band began their 2013 season August 8th with a three week summer band camp. Practice began at 7 a.m. and continued to 1:30 p.m. with a 45 minute lunch break in between for the first two weeks. This week, with the directors in teacher in-service training all day, evening practices are held from 4 to 9 p.m. But all of this was preceded by Drumline and Color Guard workshops in June and July along with a workday for drum majors and section leaders followed by a 3 day freshman/rookie camp in early August. During the school year besides the regular practice during school times, there is after school practices, late night games on Friday night and Saturday practices and competitions.
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It is lot of time and commitment, so why do it?
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For the band member it is the love of the competition, the opportunity to perform, the challenge of the music and getting the most of their instrument. But just as important, it is being part of the band. It is their ?team?. Friendships are formed that last throughout high school and beyond. It is a closeness that comes from a shared experience that is unique and honored. It is formed during the long hot days of summer camp, the hours spent on the bus travelling to games and competitions, the practice sessions in school and out and helping each other pass their classes. For school officials, it is the best of all worlds, an awarding winning program, students that are involved and fewer absences, discipline problems and failures. It is rare for an active KHS band member to be seen in the office for discipline reasons.
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This year Mr. Oktay welcomed approximately 140 band members (9-12 grades). He lost a good group of seniors last year but he said that this new group is just as good. He is enthusiastic about his leadership for this year. The Drum Majors are Steve Reitano, Sarah Ford and Zoe Langston. Color Guard Captain is Sarah Beggs and the Lieutenant is Emma Reed. Drumline Captains are Morgan Biscoe and Cameron Johnson. Brass Captain is Garret Uner. The Woodwind Captain is Deja Caldwell. And the Squad Leaders for 2013 are Drake Huggins, Aubrey Nelson, Vicky Higgins, Godfred Paulan and Rheya Michener.
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Erol Oktay is Director of Bands. DiMitri Higginbotham is Assistant Director of Bands. ?Lacey McGowan is Colorguard and Winterguard Instructor and Choreographer for the Kennedale High School Band.
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For more information on the KISD Band Program check out their webpage at

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