DARRINGTON — It was loud.
You expect that, there being a whole section of kids wielding musical instruments.
But those sounds — pounding drums, blasting trumpets, slinking clarinets — had not come from those bleachers in… gosh, do you know how long?
It was loud.
It was overwhelming.
It was amazing.
The first pep band performance in decades at a Darrington High School football game came on a Friday night earlier this month.
The fact that it included just as many Arlington High School band members — many wearing Logger green — speaks to how it all came about.
Actually, it was one Arlington teen in particular.
One who was leading the drum line that night.
One who has been getting a ride from her mom, week after week, for a year and a half, to go and teach Darrington kids how to drum.
Which led to the idea of a drum line.
Which led to the idea of a homecoming game performance.
Which led to the idea of a full-on pep band.
Which led to two communities coming together in a way that continues to inspire — and to keep music flowing.
“It was so fun,” said Cami Hanna, 16, the Arlington High School drummer. “It gave the community and the school a taste of what having a band would be like. It’s completely unlike a game without a band. … There’s something about that. It increases the morale of everybody.”
A young teacher, in a big band
Arlington is big.
The high school has roughly 1,600 students. An impressive 12 percent of them are involved in band.
Jennifer Egger’s two daughters are among them. One plays drums under Hanna. They all refer to Cami as “drum mommy.”
“She’s been a mentor… Just the talent and passion this kid has for the drum line is really cool,” Egger said.
That helpful spirit extends to the Hanna family, too, Egger added. The family is known for taking home percussion equipment to repair and return good as new.
Hanna’s father, Mark, also a drummer, builds and repairs drums for a living.
“I’m always around drums. It’s my passion,” Cami Hanna said.
She’s played in school bands since sixth grade. Concert band. Jazz band. Wind ensemble. And, of course, drum line.
She is good, and has been giving drum lessons from her Oso home since she was 13.
“I’ve taught a 70-year-old,” she noted.
It was through her father’s repair work, and a Darrington student whom Hanna had been teaching, that she came in contact with Laura Goheen.
A lone teacher, with no band
Darrington is small.
From kindergarten to 12th grade, you could fit four Darrington School Districts worth of kids inside of Arlington High School.
“I’m the only music teacher,” Goheen said.
That’s a good thing.
“For six years, there was no music,” Goheen noted. “Then we had the Oso landslide, which severely affected our district.”
Out of the March 22, 2014, tragedy came a wave of goodwill and positive changes. Therapy programs that used art to help people heal were part of that. And Goheen was made a music teacher again.
But it wasn’t until a year later, in fall 2015, that a band program started to take shape, at the urging of a new superintendent.
There are now about 35 students, mostly seventh-graders, in the main band class. Goheen has used grant money to get tubanos, xylophones and, for elementary-age beginners, those ubiquitous recorders.
Little did she know she would soon add marching band drums.
“One of my students started taking drum lessons from a gal who lives halfway between Arlington and Darrington,” Goheen recalled. “I ended up learning that the dad is actually a drum repair guy, so I started accessing his skills and started talking to Cami about coming up and working with our kids.”
She paid the teen from grant money to come once a week to give lessons to sixth- and seventh-graders to start a drum line. A Northwest Music Foundation grant paid for the drums.
“The kids were really enthusiastic. The kids really liked (Cami), and she really liked them,” Goheen said.
They even held a talent show.
Then this year, Hanna suggested the drum line play for the high school’s homecoming game.
Goheen mentioned it to her band students. They wanted to play, too.
“I thought, well, we’ll give this a whirl,” Goheen said.
The first night
“Then Cami, two days before the game, called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to have some friends come,’” Goheen said.
Some turned out to be about three dozen friends, all Arlington High band members.
“They pretty much became the pep band,” the Darrington teacher said. “And my kids were like, wow, this is really loud. And it was a little overwhelming. Even in terms of size — they were high school kids. They brought a level of excitement and noise.”
Goheen was worried. Would it maybe be too much?
Little kids danced.
Big kids danced.
The football team lost. Folks cheered anyway.
What she heard: “That was so nice.” “It reminds me of days past.” “Let’s get pep band back.”
“They did something amazing,” Goheen said. “They brought back what was lost.”
The second night
But they weren’t finished yet.
Arlington band members invited the Darrington band members to come play at their own home football game the following Friday night.
Goheen scrambled again, this time for permission slips and a bus to get them there.
“Some of our kids tried to play, and some just wanted to observe and see what it’s like at a big school,” Goheen said.
One of those who played along was a small seventh-grade trumpet player.
“He’s all bundled up, with his trumpet and the music on his trumpet that he can’t play yet — and just having the time of his life in the midst of all those trumpet players,” she recalled. “He takes the trumpet home now and tells me how much he’s practicing. He’s really caught the vision.”
The return visit helped cement a broader vision for all her students — a vision of what’s possible.
“They just brought in this shot of adrenaline,” Goheen said of the Arlington band. “So that now my kids can take that, at their level, and begin to create something.”
There’s a long way to go to grow Darrington’s band.
“It was good to show them what they could be,” Hanna said.
Having the right equipment, including marching drums, has helped too, she said. “When they got that, their confidence and motivation and willingness to practice was raised exponentially.”
The rest is about time, and more practice, she said.
“Musically we’re not even close to being able to do what is required. So that’s where I come in. Finding things that are a little simpler,” Goheen said.
Even there, the new partnership has yielded help. An Arlington trumpeter has offered to share sheet music he’s created for younger players, she noted.
“I feel so grateful. The whole Arlington community — they know Darrington has been here and say, ‘poor Darrington.’ But nothing happens. … But as soon the students got involved, something happened,” Goheen said. “And it’s only because Cami Hanna had this dream.”
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3432
Arlington band uniforms
Arlington High School’s band uniforms are 26 years old, and there aren’t enough for all the band members to wear. That includes raincoats, so instead they all get wet in rainy weather. A fundraiser is underway to purchase new uniforms, estimated at $106,000.
“If I could, I’d buy them all. They deserve them. They were so kind to us,” Darrington music teacher Laura Goheen said.
Learn more: www.facebook.com/AHSBandBooster