One thing about having three teenagers is that life never seems to be dull. Yesterday's a perfect example. Our daughter turns 18 today (Oct 23) so we had a birthday dinner for her last night. Unfortunately our youngest, a sophomore at West Forsyth HS, couldn't participate because he's in the Marching Band and they had a competition at North Forsyth HS. The party went as well as you'd expect a party with a gaggle of 18 year old girls to go, and after dinner my lovely wife, Celeste, and I settled down to relax a little. We called a friend who was at the band competition to see how it was going (West performed well) and she offered to bring our son home when the buses dropped the kids off at West.
That's when the "life is never dull" really kicked in. About an hour after the first call our friend called back to ask if we'd heard from our son, and to tell us that there'd been an accident involving one of the buses carrying the band (it ended up there were two buses involved). Her son was on the bus, but she wasn't sure if ours was. Celeste called our son's cell and he answered and said that he was on a different bus and that they were pulled over at the scene of the accident. Celeste then traded calls with our friend and found out that her son was banged up, but was being released to them by the EMTs. Unfortunately six students and the bus driver had to be sent to the hospital.
We've heard varying reports from our son and other folks about the accident (fuel was leaking from the bus, one of the sax players had his mouth piece driven into his arm, one girl couldn't remember where she was, etc.), and there was a brief story on WXII's website, but the best info I've seen came in emails from the band's director Mr. Kirkpatrick and West Forsyth's principal Mr. Telford.
Before I share them I want to tell you that our son's experience in Marching Band has been a revelation. As someone who's spent many of his years on a variety of courts and fields playing and coaching different sports I thought I understood teamwork. Honestly I think marching band is exponentially harder in many ways. It's hard enough getting 11 kids moving in tandem on a soccer field, but the marching band pulls it off with 100 kids and to do it they spend innumerable hours rehearsing, often in stifling heat or brittle cold, and by engaging student leaders and dozens of parent volunteers. I'm also blown away by the camaraderie that the kids show – I've seen tight teams before but I've never seen a group of kids like this. Like I said it's been a revelation, and it explains why I'm not surprised that things unfolded the way Mr. Telford and Mr. Kirkpatrick describe:
From Mr. Telford:
Good morning. It is Sunday morning and I want to take the opportunity to touch base with you. Last night I was at the scene of the bus accident shortly after Mr Kirkpatrick called me. Six West students and a bus driver were transported to the hospital for treatment. They are all OK. This does not dismiss the emotional duress that your student may have experienced.
I am extremely proud of the students, parent volunteers and staff members. The students were cooperative and did all that was asked of them. The parent volunteers were level headed making sure all students were accounted for. Mr Kirkpatrick and Mr Spencer took charge making sure that appropriate steps were taken.
Work closely with Mr Kirkpatrick and Mr Spencer obtaining personal items that may have been left on the bus. I am sure that all students are tired due to the late evening.
Have a restful Sunday.
From Mr. Kirkpatrick:
Parents and Students,
I want you to know how proud I am of each of you in how you handled last night's accident. As you can imagine, this was a Band Director's worst nightmare. Fortunately, injuries were minor and everyone is
going to be OK. I am grateful to have an amazing group of parent chaperones who kept a level head and remained very supportive of the students throughout the ordeal. Thanks also to Mr. Spencer for being equally helpful in assisting students. Much appreciation also goes to Mr. and Mrs. Telford and Mr. and Mrs. Powell for coming to the scene immediately to assist. Belongings can be picked up in the upstairs band room in the morning.
Students, you were amazing on the field and, in this case, especially amazing off the field in a situation that wasn't rehearsed. This was an amazing feat in teamwork from all people involved.
Get some rest, see you Monday.
Speaking as a parent I'd like to thank Mr. Kirkpatrick, Mr. Telford, all of the parent volunteers, the bus drivers and other school staff who did such a great job keeping a bad situation from getting worse. I'd also like to thank Mr. Kirkpatrick for helping make Marching Band such a great experience for our son.