Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityStudents leaders push Islander Band to achieve big things | KHGI
Close Alert

Students leaders push Islander Band to "fight for it" on the field

Trombone leader Ryan Sodomka says he believes the Grand Island Senior High band is poised to do "amazing" things this season (Photo Credit: NTV News)
Trombone leader Ryan Sodomka says he believes the Grand Island Senior High band is poised to do "amazing" things this season (Photo Credit: NTV News)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

Denied a true competition season in 2020, the Islander Band is ready to march and show what 150 students working as one can do.

"The cool part of band is being part of something greater. Just not me playing my horn, everyone together," said Ryan Sodomka, a trombone section leader.

The Grand Island Senior High Band is fortunate to have added to its staff but teachers say student leaders have pushed the band to get better.

Assistant Director Alex Kemnitz said, "We're lucky we have a great leadership team. We have large leadership team. Typically three leaders per section which is uncommon but when you find three students who are good and build them into leaders we do amazing things."

Kemnitz is a second year teacher at the school, in the area of robotics and alternative energy. And when he's not teaching science and technology he's showing off his musical side.

"They call me a unicorn around here," he said with a laugh, for his unique combination of skills.

Kemnitz joins a band directed by John Jacobs and Bobby Jacobs.

"The father son duo who do a remarkable job leading this group," said Kemnitz.

Sage McCallum is unique in her own right, playing soccer and wrestling but also marching on the drum line.

"Probably the best activity I've been in, met so many friends. Early mornings can be rough but competition, performing, I love it so much," she said.

She plays the quads, an array of drums, and as a senior says she knows she has to set the beat in more ways than one.

"When you're with your full drum line, going at it, most intense part of the show it's such a special feeling," she said.

Sophomores can be leaders too as Caitlyn O'Neill proves with the flutes.

"It's a lot of work and people don't realize that," she said of the early mornings.

O'Neill may be a sophomore but only recently experienced her first true competition.

Ryan Sodomka said, "It's definitely weird for sophomores because last year they didn't have a season so it's their first year. Our first show was last Saturday and nerves got a hold of them but now that we got that out of the way we'll be amazing now."

"The only competitions we did were virtual. We had to record ourselves and submit it," O'Neill explains of 2020. She admits she may have had a few nerves but said she's ready to go back out there.

"The pandemic made these students want to go, ready to go, and really fight for it," said Kemnitz, the assistant director. "We see a really incredible culture."

He played in the Hastings High band as a kid and the Cornhusker Marching Band in college.

He said those experiences have shown what can be accomplished collectively.

"When you get 150 kids doing what they're supposed to be doing it's incredible," he said.

She's only experienced it once in front of a competition crowd but O'Neill says she's already hooked.

"You stand there and take it in, it's a big moment, I did that, a whole show," she said.

Comment bubble

John Jacobs said their field show is a melting pot of styles from Sousa to jazz with familiar melodies.

Loading ...