Introducing ‘The Sting’
Alameda High School (AHS) once again has a marching band. AHS has not had a marching band since the early 1990s. The AHS Marching Band “The Sting” performed its first halftime show at the AHS Hornets football team home opener on Sept. 6. They also performed at the Island Bowl on Sept. 13, both at Thompson Field.
How did this new marching band come to be? Back in the fall of 2016, parents Sue and Glenn Yajko attended AHS home football games and left very sad there was no band or any music to cheer on the Alameda Hornets.
Sue got the idea to start a pep band. Sue had marched in a band while at University of Wisconsin and was determined to get music at the AHS football games and hopefully then the other sports as well. In spring 2017, she brought the idea to the AHS Music Boosters. The group helped identify potential obstacles — Sue tackled each one.
She next asked the AHS Band Director about the school’s Fight Song. He remembered it sung to the tune of “On Wisconsin,” but he did not know the words.
Sue knew her alma mater’s fight song well. The tune was familiar and she tracked down the music easily. But the words to the AHS version of the song were another story.
“No one seemed to know the lyrics and I couldn’t find them online,” Sue said. “At a graduation party in June 2017 I asked some AHS alums if they knew the words. Within 20 minutes they got on their phones and came back to me with the words — so awesome!”
Sue next reached out to the music director at Lincoln Middle School to promote the Pep Band. Over the summer Sue was able to gather about 30 students interested in joining the new band. They arranged their first rehearsal in one student’s backyard.
The Pep Band learned the AHS Fight Song, “The Star Spangled Banner” and a couple of shorter tunes before the Hornets’ first home game. The Pep Band was started as an AHS Club.
The next challenge proved teaching the AHS student body its own fight song. Most of the students didn’t know what a fight song was. Band members got remarks from their friends like, “Why do you play the same song over and over?”
Sue told the band members they had the privilege of introducing the fight song to the AHS students, teaching them the words and seeing how soon the students would embrace the song with pride.
The second year of the Pep Band Mitchell White arrived as the new AHS Music Director.
“We were excited because he had experience with marching band as part of the USC Marching Band for four years,” said Sue. “When I told him the history of the Pep Band and the wish for a marching band, he was all for it.”
During White’s first year he and Music Booster parents started making the dream a reality. White developed a marching band halftime show. Also, students from the Encinal High School Marching Band jumped in and helped. Music Booster parents found used uniforms online and raised money to buy them in AHS school colors.
This past August, AHS hosted its first Marching Band Camp. The camp is a student-led club. The AHS Marching Band now consists of 26 musicians.
The Sting’s next performance takes place tomorrow, Friday, Oct. 4, at Thompson Field.