When Concord High School senior Kaitlyn Kelleher dons her band uniform every week, it doesn't carry the same thrill it used to.
In fact, by her own admission, it's a little pathetic.
Concord saw a monstrous growth in band this year, with nearly 40 new members. That's good. What's not so good is that the influx of bodies created a shortage of uniforms to outfit those bodies. Faced with a decision to dress half the team in uniforms and half in something else, the powers that be opted instead to put everyone in matching T-shirts until new official outfits arrive.
So Kelleher tracked down a vintage uni and has taken to putting it on every once in awhile, in only in the privacy of her own home.
"I own one of those older uniforms, and I pathetically put it on every week," Kelleher quipped. "I think band uniforms are something amazing. It brings us all together and says 'This is what we are.' "
Let's be honest - nobody is confusing a band uniform for high fashion (Project Runway challenge idea!). But for those in the Concord High School band, it's a different kind of style. Call it Crimson couture.
"I think our band uniforms are awesome," Kelleher said. "They're crisp; they're not old, but they're classic. It embodies what we have in band."
What they have is a tight bond among band mates, even as the program has exploded from 65 members three years ago to 125 this year. That influx is due in large part to band director Jim Foley and assistant band director Gabriel Cohen, both of whom worked at the middle school level for years - Foley for 33 of them - and fostered relationships with future high schoolers.
Still, even they were surprised when they had sign-ups last spring.
"We anticipated this balloon was going to happen next year, but we said, 'We'll be all right this year,' " Foley said. "Then we had sign-ups last spring and said, 'Oh, my lord.' There are about 45 freshmen in the 125, and we're expecting the same thing next year."
Which brings us to the band's quest: raising $40,000 to cover the cost of uniforms to outfit the entire outfit.
Forty uniforms have already been ordered, though the school only had enough money to cover the down payment. That leaves them at the mercy of the company making the uniforms, which said they would arrive in between 90 and 120 days. The order was placed in May, and no uniforms have arrived.
Foley said $13,000 has been raised, but reaching $40,000 would allow the school to pay off the remaining balance on the current order and order enough for next year's anticipated spike.
"It has basically all been parent donated so far," Foley said. "But we're hoping to see some of the generous businesses and alumni of Concord High School donate."
Anyone donating $300 or more will have the option of owning one of the vintage uniforms, initially worn in 1996 during President Bill Clinton's inauguration parade, Foley said.
New uniforms aren't cheap - each one costs $500. But that's because they are made of wool, include a jacket, a pair of pants, a hat and a plume and are tailored specifically for the Concord band.
"There's nothing stock about them," Cohen said.
Which is precisely how the band members like it. The senior participants have witnessed the program's exponential growth over the past few years and have helped foster the camaraderie that drew them to band in the first place.
"We have almost 30 trumpets now," senior Drew Hillyer, a veteran player and one of the leaders of the trumpet section, said. "The things we teach these trumpet players is what's going to be passed down to the next few generations in band." (next page »)