It’s early evening, and Jimtown’s marching band is fighting through hot, humid weather as they practice their steps and music.
"You guys look tired!” Band director Kathy Baughman shouts from atop the drum major stand. “Are you tired?”
"No!” the students shout back in unison.
"Our show is a lot longer this year,” she reminds them. “It’s going to take a lot of muscle and a lot more strength.”
Jimtown’s marching band started three years ago with just 20 students. This year, 59 students are participating, with uniforms (in previous years they wore matching shirts and pants) and a more difficult routine.
"Jimtown is a very competitive school,” Baughman said. “And it seems like that competitive nature that’s built into our school environment is finally coming through in band. They want to show the community what they can do.”
The band has been in Festival class for the past two years, but this year they are participating in Scholastic class.
Baughman describes Scholastic class as a sort of middle ground between Festival class and Open Class, where many of the other area marching bands compete.
Scholastic is still non-competitive, but the band will be number-scored as well as awarded a gold, silver, bronze or participation ranking.
Baughman’s goal is to get Jimtown competing in Open class in five years. She’d also like to see 100 kids in marching band — which is about a sixth of the entire student body at the high school.
To get to Open class, the students will need to work hard and the band will need more money for better instruments and a sound system.
But Baughman said school administration is extremely supportive of the band, and she’s seeing growing parental involvement as well.
And the students, for their part, are more confident this year then they've been in the past.
"We are still a very young band — we only have seven seniors but the seniors have been with me since their sophomore year,” Baughman said. “I’m getting some who are veterans now.”
The band’s motto this year, posted on the wall inside their music room, is “We’re a family.”
Students are taking the motto seriously, likely in part because their coach is just as quick to joke and laugh with them as she is to push them to improve.
"There’s good motivation this year to really push forward and achieve,” Baughman said.
Jimtown’s first invitational performance of the season will be at the Concord marching band invitational Sept. 20.