The marching band at flooded Park Forest Middle School has raised about $25,000 in the past few weeks — enough to pay for the whole band to march in the annual Veterans Day celebration in Washington, D.C.
“Everyone that wanted to go is going,” said Band Director Doretha Williams.
That works out to about two busloads of teens and pre-teens, or 70 of the band’s 100 members. Some parents of the band's younger members balked at sending their kids so far away, she said.
Williams and the school, which is one of eight in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system that had to relocate because of flooding, embarked on frenzy of fundraising in recent weeks, including a concert held Nov. 2, to try to ensure that all the bands that wanted to go could go. Many of the band members’ families were no longer able to afford the $600 per student price having flooded out themselves.
For months, the Park Forest Middle School band, 100 members strong, has been planning to mar…
The school set a goal of raising $38,000, but is able to make it work with $25,000, Williams said. Earlier in the year, prior to the flooding, the band raised $33,000 to buy new uniforms, which they showed off for the first time at their Nov. 2 concert.
Williams said the generosity she’s seen has been inspiring. For instance, during a recent practice march the band did between her house and the Park Forest Middle campus at 3760 Aletha Drive, a Domino’s delivery driver stopped his car and handed her his $10 worth of tips for the day; it turns out he used to play in the middle school’s band.
“I was touched by him giving us all he had to help us,” Williams recalled.
The band is meeting up at its temporary home at Capitol Middle School, 5100 Greenwell Springs Road, around 7 p.m. Wednesday and then getting on the road by 9 p.m.
While fundraising is done, Williams said she those who still want to help can stop by Wednesday night as they prepare to depart.
“If they want to donate some snack or drinks for the kids, that would be great,” she said.
The students will march in events Thursday night and on Friday, Veterans Day. In addition to performing, the students are taking a guided night tour of D.C., as well as a dinner cruise on the Potomac River.