Always loud and proud, the Killeen Independent School District’s four high school bands are adding some serious style to their repertoire this year.
On Wednesday, district leaders began delivery of four 48-foot moving vans, each specially outfitted and designed for each high school band.
Delivery came at Ellison, Killeen and Shoemaker high schools during marching rehearsal to surprise band students and allow celebrations in the midst of band practice. Delivery is scheduled today at Harker Heights High School.
The vans, customized by Clubhouse Trailers of Edmond, Okla., include hydraulic ramps and two levels of flooring to accommodate percussion and other rolling equipment.
The trailers are equipped with interior LED lighting and exterior floodlights, all powered by a solar panel and designed for safe loading on those late Friday game nights.
Each van bears the unique logos and mascots of each school, making the transport units rolling billboards of school pride.
At Ellison High School, band director Jeff Smith caught sight of the long-awaited trailer stopped at the intersection of Elms and Trimmier roads. He directed band members to stand in formation, then turn to face Elms Road so they could see it driving past.
Standing in position with their instruments, band members slowly began to smile and then to laugh and cheer as the green-and-black trailer pulled into the school parking lot.
Across town two hours later, a similar scene played out. After going into the band hall for indoor practice, Killeen High School band director Spencer Gregg brought his students back to the marching surface in front of Leo Buckley Stadium just in time to see a maroon-and-black vehicle pull into the parking lot. Students cheered and hugged and began shooting photos.
In the afternoon, a third moving van — this one blue and black — pulled into the lot at Shoemaker High School and a third scene of excited band students played out.
At all three schools, Killeen ISD fine arts director Karen Herrera spoke to students and band staff and other district leaders, crediting current and past superintendents, board members and district administration for bringing the project to fruition.
She also credited graphic arts students at the KISD Career Center for coming up with the exterior designs for the vehicles.
Next, Jeff Hadley and Drew Taylor of Clubhouse Trailers demonstrated the remote-controlled hydraulic ramps and the interior dual racks. Students took turns walking through the new vans.
In past years, the high school bands shared district delivery trucks, requiring student loading crews to arrive early on game and contest days and stay late to wedge the raft of band equipment into trucks for transport.
“This is really awesome,” said Gregg at KHS. “I really can’t express how exciting it is. This will be so much easier and efficient and it’s a classier look. People will take notice. It’s great for the district. It’s a blessing and an opportunity to showcase our kids.”
“It’s awesome,” said Smith at EHS. “We’re able to move everything we have more safely and efficiently and we’ll be moving in style. The loading crew has been asking me all the time when it’s going to get here.”
“It’s a real asset,” said Shoemaker band director Michael Farmer. “We travel a lot, loading and unloading, but this is also a dramatic visual effect. The kids are going to flip,” he said before the band students got their first view.
Shoemaker principal Sandra Forsythe led the band students into the parking lot, where they spotted the navy blue moving van bearing a huge Grey Wolf mascot.
“It’s amazing,” said Shoemaker sophomore Dana Garcia, a member of the loading crew for the band.
“This is beautiful,” said Cynthia Lunsford-Cook, a junior and flutist. “It’s a great symbol for our school.”
“This will be amazing,” said Ellison senior Gabriel Montero, head drum major. “It will be a lot smoother loading in and out. Now everyone can see what school we’re from. It will boost pride. We’ll be saying ‘Yeah, I’m part of that.’”
“It’s awesome,” Killeen High drum major senior McKenzie Smallwood said. “It’s finally here. It’s very exciting. I think it will raise morale. This will get us to games faster. I think it will make everyone more confident.”
Ellison senior trumpet player Juan Aviles is signed up for the loading crew for the second year. “Words cannot explain my excitement,” he said. “I knew it was coming. I couldn’t sleep waiting for this. This is going to help us this year and into the future.”