Fulton High School’s band has grown to 92 members under the leadership of director David King and assistant director David Miller, mirroring the success of the football team. And as the band’s numbers grow, so do the band’s needs – that’s 92 students to equip, feed and transport, and those needs increase as the Falcons’ gridiron successes extend the marching band’s season.
“We are hoping to find donors or sponsors to help us feed the band, hopefully,” said Tracy McKinley, president of the band boosters club.
“We feed them every home and away game. We try to keep the cost down to $3-$4 a head, and keep it cost efficient. Part of the alumni feed them homecoming week, so that leaves us nine weeks out of 10 that we feed them – plus we always go to playoffs.”
High school bands get about $700 per year from Knox County, which doesn’t go very far in covering expenses, which McKinley said range from $55,000 to $65,000 annually.
The boosters are constantly looking for ways to raise money: they run the visitors’ side concession stand at home football games. They park cars for University of Tennessee home football games for a $1,500 per game fee (a deal that King found for them). Principal Rob Speas has found creative ways of helping them out financially.
But it’s hard. Not many Fulton kids come from wealthy families, and the needs are huge.
“Band fees are $250 (annually). And in all honesty, most kids at Fulton can’t afford the band fees,” McKinley said.
She’s been a band mom for seven years. Her daughter, Zoey, played vibraphone and chimes and is in college now. Son Zach played trombone in the marching band and bass drum in the winter drum line. He graduated two years ago and is in college in Florida. Her youngest, Zarik, is a 10th grader and plays saxophone.
She said she’s seen first-hand what band can do for a kid.
“Zach was actually failing middle school when we moved to North Knoxville, before he started band. He graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, and with an honors diploma. I tease Mr. King that Zach is the poster child for what band can do for a kid. It opened his eyes to what he needed to do and helped him focus.”
Monetary donations may be sent to the Fulton High School Band Boosters (marked food), 2509 N. Broadway, Knoxville TN 37917.
Church groups interested in feeding the band can contact David King at 865-679-1461.