BUCKHANNON - A new marching band is in the line-up for West Virginia Wesleyan College after 36 years without one, according to two college representatives who visited the Buckhannon Rotary Club on Tuesday.
Vice President for Enrollment Management Bernie Valento and the director of the Bobcat Marching Band, Logan Lindsey, each had an opportunity to tell Buckhannon Rotarians about the new program.
"I really wanted to start a marching band," Valento said. "I thought we really had a strong jazz band and really a strong music major at the college.
"We had to work through it, but eventually we decided to start the marching band. I'm really excited because it will provide our students lots of opportunities."
The college had a marching band between 1922 and 1978, Valento said. Lindsey said that starting a marching band now feels like filling a void.
"Not having a marching band for that long in Wesleyan, I feel like there is probably a hole that we get to fill," Lindsey said. "Not just doing community service and acts like that, but helping generate community pride."
Lindsey wasn't alone in believing that the marching band will bring with it a sense of pride.
"It brings pride, it brings joy, it brings excitement and I'm really excited that the marching band will do that for us at our campus," Valento said.
Valento said that the band's re-emergence comes in time for a special college memory.
"It even makes it more special as we're approaching our 125th year anniversary - that we're bringing it back," Valento said. "Logan and I, shortly, are going to work together extremely hard so we get good numbers so we're ready for the 125th (anniversary) - which is just a year and a half away. It's very exciting."
Valento said the program is working toward enrolling about 35 students each year. He said he hopes the program will grow to about 100-115 eventually. Because many band members will likely have their own instruments from previous band experiences at their former high schools, Valento said the equipment for the band will be purchased as needed so that the college doesn't accrue a large bill for instruments that might not get used.
"I knew the things that were happening on the campus; I wanted to continue the momentum," Valento said. "At a small, private college, one of the most powerful things is really the opportunity to participate and be part of the community."
The marching band is just the first step. Valento said that he is hopeful the college will eventually include a color guard and majorettes with the band. Valento said that almost 20 students already have been recruited for the band.
Lindsey said that, as the director, the students will perform some completely new songs and "brand new Wesleyan-sounding traditions" composed just for the college as well as some existing musical numbers the college will purchase.
"I can't help myself but to put in the New Orleans flair no matter what genre we play," Lindsey said, adding that he grew up in the South just outside of that city. "I think that would be a really neat environment, and I think that would be very cool for our students. They're going to feel like they're part of something hip."
Lindsey said the most enjoyable part of his job is watching his students develop the sense of community that he said is needed in a band.
"Starting a band from scratch, it's a privilege to be able to culminate all the things that I've done and what the school is," Lindsey said.
He said he wants the members to create a band tradition by merging the traditions of the community and those traditions of the former bands in which they have performed.