Members of Nansemond River High School’s marching band smile for the camera with band director, Edward J. Woodis. The Suffolk Band Alumni Association is raising money to help the band operate and attend events.
Members of Nansemond River High School’s marching band smile for the camera with band director, Edward J. Woodis. The Suffolk Band Alumni Association is raising money to help the band operate and attend events.

Archived Story

Stepping high

Published 10:20pm Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just as it’s possible to become stateless, the vagaries of the world can also leave one without a former high school — as those who attended John Yeates High School discovered.

It’s a phenomenon a group of former John Yeates High classmates mulled when they reunited last October at Nansemond River High School’s homecoming, according to one of them, Reese Johnson-Nixon.

“We didn’t have a high school anymore,” Johnson-Nixon said.

The Suffolk resident began telling her friends about the successes of Nansemond River’s marching band, as well as how it had been hit by funding constraints.

Pretty soon, they decided to create an outlet for their frustrated school spirit. A booster club was out of the question as none of them have children at the school, so the Suffolk Band Alumni Association was born, Johnson-Nixon said.

“We come from all over the U.S.,” she said. “As far as Hawaii, probably even further. It’s our way of giving back to the community.”

The SBA has two upcoming fundraisers for the Marching Warriors: Bowling for the Band, at the Western Branch AMF Bowling Lanes in Chesapeake on July 27, and Outback Night for the Marching Warriors, planned for Aug. 22 at the school, with Outback Steakhouse supplying meals.

Edward J. Woodis, in the role at Nansemond River High School for 13 years, is among Hampton Road’s longest serving band directors, according to Johnson-Nixon.

“It’s so much harder for the children this day and age,” Woodis said. “The funding was there when I was in high school. Whatever the band needed, the funding was there.

“Now, there is no money.”

Rising senior Sierra Maddox, the dance captain, is leading another fundraising effort. Folks are encouraged to donate $5, and the money is being collected at the school.

“It will save our parents money,” she said.

Returning Majorette Phylicia Nixon, Reese Johnson-Nixon’s daughter and a rising sophomore, is working on the bowling event.

Tickets at $25 include three hours of bowling, shoe rental and entry into a drawing. Lane sponsors are being sought, and the event is from 1 to 4 p.m.

“It’s important for everybody to support their local band,” Nixon said.

Flag captain and rising junior Ebony Fetlon, meanwhile, is helping with Outback Night. The cost is $20, which will buy a six-ounce steak, five-ounce chicken breast, Caesar salad, cake, beverage and entry into a drawing.

Tickets for both events are available at the Nansemond River High School band room Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Johnson-Nixon said proceeds would help replace and repair aging uniforms and instruments, purchase drum skins and pay for travel expenses to two upcoming events, in Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Woodis mentioned two other fundraisers: Band Day, on Oct. 5, which attracts 10 to 12 bands to the school, and a fruit sale from Oct. 1 to Nov. 25. For more information on those fundraisers, call 923-4103.

For more information on the SBA fundraisers, including about lane sponsorship, call Reese Johnson-Nixon at 452-8731 or 335-7311.

 

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