LHS band a gathering storm

Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Members of Lakeland High School’s majorette squad, in uniform, strike a pose for the camera. As the majorettes and the band have had success this year, membership is on the rise, director Alvin Wilson says. From left are Kayla Ricks, Javene Robertson, Tiara Robinson, Brittany Brooks, Breanna Grant, Breyahna King and Sharai Thomas.

As it continues to reach greater and greater heights of success, Lakeland High School’s band program is expected to almost double in membership next school year.

“Quiet Storm” marching band director Alvin W. Wilson II, in his sixth year in the role, predicted membership would grow from 87 students currently to 130 or 140 in 2013-2014.

“The kids have gotten a lot more excited and decided to become part of the band program in middle school,” Wilson said in explanation of the swelling ranks. “They have seen our results over the years, and they want to be part of it.”

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At the current level of membership, Lakeland has the city’s smallest band program, according to Quiet Storm volunteer Chanel Bryant, Nansemond Parkway Elementary’s principal.

“But (it) has been very successful, due to the hard work and dedication of the students, parents, and band staff,” she wrote in an email.

“Just this fall, the marching band won 24 awards at field show competitions from Virginia to North Carolina, with at least half of them being first-place awards.

“This was the first year the band program participated in an out-of-state competition under (Wilson’s) leadership.”

Wilson cited instilling discipline in band members as central to his leadership philosophy. “My philosophy is very simple,” he said. “Discipline is the key to having great success.”

The discipline doctrine also applied to academics, not just extra-curricular pursuits, he said.

Among other band achievements this season, the “Dazzling Sapphire” majorette squad has been undefeated, winning first places in the four competitions it entered.

The band as a whole has won first-place honors in competitions held at I.C. Norcom and Nansemond River high schools and in Fayetteville, N.C. The drum majors placed first in competitions at Nansemond River and King’s Fork high schools and in Fayetteville. And the dancers and percussion sections took first-place trophies at Nansemond River and King’s fork competitions, respectively.

“Mr. Wilson is not just a band director to the students, he is also a mentor as well as a father-figure to many,” Bryant wrote. “He has earned the respect of the students and parents and has a very strong support system.”

Wilson said he couldn’t lead band members to such great heights without the strong support he receives from administration, faculty and staff at Lakeland. “It’s a team effort,” he said.

“The community is very excited about the program. Lakeland has a strong following and support because of the passion and excitement of the kids, as well as the staff. Our band staff is impeccable.”