Many people think “Pelicans” when they hear Port Allen High School mentioned. But when people hear music coming from the Port Allen side of a stadium on Friday nights, the name to know is “Band of Blue.”
This year, nearly two-dozen determined musicians and color guards compose Port Allen High’s long-enduring, award-winning band. The Band of Blue may be small in number, but it is mighty in sound and school spirit.
This year marks a new direction and renewed potential for the Band of Blue.
The band is going in a new direction under new direction. First-year Band Director Robert “Drew” Brunson graduated with honors in music education from Louisiana State University in 2016. Brunson is a high school marching band veteran and active musician. He plays guitar and writes music when he is not directing the Band of Blue and teaching fine arts at Port Allen High.
“He has been a wonderful addition to our faculty. His combination of youth and expertise is a perfect fit. He is very organized, hardworking, and passionate. He has a great vision for the direction of our band, and we look forward to seeing that vision come to fruition,” Port Allen High Principal James Jackson said.
The members and what being a part of the band means to them are critical to that vision’s success.
Some Band of Blue members indicated playing music helps them develop practical and social skills, and it fosters their personal growth.
“It teaches you perseverance and self-control,” senior percussionist Mignonne-Ariel Leachman said.
Senior tuba and clarinet player Emily Nichols noted her experiences in the band have challenged her and have been pivotal in her growth as an individual.
As sophomore percussionist Jayden Fazzio said, being in the band “sets people up for the future.” Band “can be a straight shot into college,” senior percussionist Alex Gautreaux pointed out. Junior trombonist Jesse Thomas explained being in the band can open the door to music scholarships.
There are, in fact, many scholarships available to students who stick with a marching band and other musical ensembles while in high school.
The Band of Blue’s regrowth is a critical part of a larger initiative to improve the whole art program at Port Allen High. The school has added “dance and choir offerings this year in addition to media arts, theater, art, speech, and AP Studio art,” Principal Jackson said. “We are starting small, but the potential for growth is exciting. Expanding our arts program increases our extracurricular offerings and gives our young adults more opportunities to showcase their talents and individuality. The opening of our new performing arts theater is right on time with our vision. The future is bright!”
That bright future is backed by the hard work and positive vision of students and teachers like the ones who make the Band of Blue mighty.