First Times

May 15, 2017


You could feel your feet swelling in the hotness of your black, flat-bottomed shoes. The sun shone on them, and the black leather seemed to soak in the radiation and boil your soles. When it was hot enough, your bottom eyelid would grow a single drop of sweat that wouldn’t quite let go of the surface tension on your skin to roll down, so it would stay there on your face while you stood at attention, no matter how heavy your instrument was or how much that bug bite behind your earlobe itched. But every bead of sweat, every annoying itch, and every step towards the last measure of the closing piece brought the band closer than they were before.


The 2016-2017 school year is the first year out of ten that the Hermann Bearcat Brigade entered into the finals competition, earning a first place trophy for both field competition and parade, and 7th in the finals. A success like this took inspiration and determination, two things that this year’s new band director offered.


Benjamin Sachs is the first band director in many years to dedicate to a long-term idea for the music society of Hermann. The idea begins with the elementary school children. Mrs. Sachs, Ben’s wife, teaches music at the elementary school level, while students from the high school teach the middle schoolers about what band is to encourage early enrollment. This plan imposes a very large team of musicians “within the next ten years,” said Sachs, something Hermann has never had.


“I came from a school that had no marching band whatsoever. All the marching we ever did at my old school consisted of making a formation in the shape of an M for Montgomery, and it only went wide enough to spread over 10 yards. That was it. It was a complete culture shock coming to Hermann’s band. I got the drill sheet and I didn’t know what to do,” said Alyssa Lauer (11), new to Hermann High School and the marching band.


Indeed, lots of work was put into the marching show, which featured a selection of music from the Les Miserables musical. Time in class was not enough to create something like this year’s marching spectacle. Alyssa talked about her contribution to the band.


“Coming in early in the morning was new. All the mornings I had to be there at 7:00 a.m. were worth it,” said Lauer.


As well as the day of the band’s history-writing victory...


“Whenever we won that competition, all the work just paid off. That was the most amazing moment. I remember standing there and we got all these awards. We kept getting ‘em and getting ‘em. We won first overall. At first, we were kind of in shock; we didn’t realize what just happened. Then everyone started screaming,” said Lauer. “People were crying.”

Suddenly, for the first time, you didn’t feel your feet burning up in those shoes anymore. Your attention became fixated on this vibrant feeling in your insides. The sun and the sweat under your uniform seemed to melt into you, and all you saw was that group of people that you trained and cried with, and how they were just as thrilled as you that the dream of the Bearcat Brigade’s ultimate accomplishment had finally come true. Today, the trophies sit on a shelf in the band room. But the pride is carried with every band member who was there that day.

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Hermann High School

Gasconade County R-1 School District

176 Bearcat Crossing

Hermann, MO 65041


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