Band leader expresses concerns and understanding after Bonfire incident

Dear Editor,

I am Samantha Sullivan, the Field Captain of the Marching Cougar Pride. I must preface this letter with three facts. 

One; the Bonfire Assembly wasn’t any one person or group’s fault, and in no way does the Band see it as such. 

Two: it clearly happened because of miscommunication between and within many organizations. Work is being done to fix this.

Three: the following opinions are coming from a place of understanding and moving forward.

The Band has, in years past, felt isolated at assemblies. We would play before and after, but it never seemed we were included. We were not involved in our class cheers and competitions. We felt more like entertainment than anything else. This year, the Bonfire Assembly was different. We were on the agenda, we got to dress up and we performed a skit. It was clear to me, and I hope to others, that the Band felt appreciated and had an amazing night. 

However, when it came time to perform our show, misdirection and mob mentality took over, leading to chaos on the court and outside. This chaos created an uncertainty which overwhelmed the Band and, in a way, some of us felt cheated out of our performance. 

The thing that worried me and all of the Band staff the most was safety. Since everyone was clustered together, the chance that  someone could be hurt was high. In our marching formations, it is hard to stop abruptly, especially when we are as close as we were that night. On top of the students’ safety, we were also concerned about the instruments. These instruments can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to repair. 

Every student in the Band had a different experience. I was fortunate enough to avoid the brunt of discomfort that many people felt, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t relay what is on their minds. Yes, every band member signed up to play in concerts and assemblies, but they did not ask to be disrespected or put in harm’s way. I couldn’t communicate well with the other drum majors, which meant that it was hard for students to receive any information I was trying to give.

The morning after Bonfire, Mr. Eichman, the marching band director,  addressed the Band and voiced his perspective. He explained what was supposed to happen and that mistakes are what led to the disorganization we experienced. He reiterated that we should not be angry or frustrated with anyone, and that measures are being taken to improve future assemblies. His address helped many students, like me, be more understanding of the situation.

The Band staff, Spirit Club staff, and administration have had procedural discussions to ensure that something such as this doesn’t happen again. On top of that, I have been invited to attend Spirit Club meetings as a representative for Band. Dr. Gruman even addressed the Band and is working to further improve future events such as Bonfire. The Band greatly appreciates and admires all of the work that is being done.

Despite what happened toward the end, I can say that this was one of the best assemblies I’ve been to. I know we can look forward to many great and high-energy assemblies in the future.