Building a high school marching band from scratch is no task for the timid.
Band director Emiley Bond has taken on the challenge at Lincoln Christian school.
With no fancy uniforms in the budget, her 55 band members wear black sweatpants and zip-up blue hoodies, street shoes and no hats.
While some band directors pay writers to design their shows, Bond's tight budget means she writes her own formations in pencil, without a computer.
Band member Hailey Canfield, 16, a junior, felt a little embarrassed by the sweats at first, given the handsome, professional uniforms of other high school bands.
“When I first see the sweats, I'm like, 'Oooh, I wonder how this is going to go.' But it's almost kind of cool.”
Bond, in her sixth year as music director at Lincoln Christian, was a drum major at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she majored in music education.
Lincoln Christian has 172 students in grades 9 through 12.
Some people say the 60-year-old school once had a marching band, she said. But details are hard to come by.
“Anybody that's still around now doesn't remember it,” she said.
Recalling her school days in Pawnee City, a Class C school similar in size to Lincoln Christian where every student did virtually every activity, she holds no summer band camp or before- and after-school practices.
“We do it all during our class period, because that's the only time these kids have,” she said.
Eleven of her 15 brass players are on the football team.
At first, the kids didn't think the band would be fun. She took it slow to keep kids from quitting. They took their first steps in the Star City parade.
It grew on them, and they tried an indoor marching exhibition the next year.
Canfield has been in band since fifth grade. She had seen other bands and professional drum corps on YouTube and was thrilled at the idea of marching. She now considers herself a band fanatic.
Canfield said she “adores” her director, calling her “my second mom, one of my hugest role models.”
“Through her, God's really turned this music program around. It's just incredible how hard she's worked, and put her work into us and really to pull all of it together,” she said.
Last year, their first year competing, the band received a superior rating at the Oxbow Marching Band Invitational in Ashland, a popular contest for smaller Nebraska bands.
Last weekend, the band got a warm welcome from the crowd, and an excellent rating from the judges, at the Lincoln Links marching contest. The band took second place overall in Class C and the drum line got first place in the class.
It meant a lot, Bond said, when a photographer and a judge complimented her band for having fun.
“That's our goal,” Bond said. “That's my message. That's what it's all about.”