By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
When it comes to high school marching bands throughout the state of West Virginia, band boosters are in many ways the backbone of the programs.
“The state does not fund marching bands,” North Marion High School band director Tom Straight said. “It is all funded through band boosters and private donations. Without band boosters, there would be no marching band program.”
That’s why Farmington residents Kevin and Tammy Arbogast can often be found doing work behind the scenes to help make the program a possibility.
“Everything we do, they’re a part of it,” Straight said. “Any kind of activity that the band does, they’re always very supportive.”
Kevin can usually be found moving equipment on and off the field and driving the band truck, which was donated to the program by Alasky’s Furniture & Appliance, to and from away football games and band competitions.
“Buses are quite expensive,” Tammy said. “Luckily, with Alasky’s donating the truck, that’s one bus that we don’t have to pay a driver for.”
Tammy, on the other hand, typically has her hands tied planning for the band’s next fundraiser or working behind the concession stand — two things that are instrumental in the band’s ability to exist.
“We don’t get anything from the gate at the football games,” Straight said. “Any money we get we raise from our own concession stand.”
According to Tammy, who works for the Department of Justice and is also the secretary for North Marion’s band boosters, a lot of time and dedication go into making sure everything runs smoothly, but she knows how crucial it is to the program.
“There is some pressure because we have to make sure there’s money for the kids to go to the away games and to competitions,” she said. “But for us to participate or to fundraise, that’s what we choose to do because we want to make sure the kids get to do all of these things.”
The Arbogasts’ son, Lane, is a senior at NMHS and is the band’s field commander.
Kevin said he participated in the school band during his high school years, so he wants to do everything he can to make sure that opportunity is available to students in the community.
“In the long run, it’s for the kids,” Kevin said. “We want them to have a good experience.”
Kevin, who works as a service technician for Dr Pepper, said his job has made some unique fundraising ideas possible.
“The kids went out and sold cases of soda and Snapple teas, and they got a percentage of what those cases cost,” he said.
In addition, Tammy said the band members will sell fruit and Sarris Candies and hold elimination dinners in order to obtain funding for the program.
“It takes some planning,” Tammy said. “There are so many other boosters that you want to try to come up with something different so you aren’t crossing paths.”
Overall, though, Tammy said the community tends to be supportive of the fundraising efforts.
“The community definitely does what it can for as many boosters as they’ve got to try to fund,” she said.
And according to Straight, the community and the students mutually benefit from the band’s purpose.
“From going to competitions and marching in local parades, it provides the kids with an opportunity to give community support and with an opportunity to participate in a competitive organization,” he said.
Kevin and Tammy both said there are always ways for parents to get involved and support the marching band.
“Even if someone volunteers for just one football game, it helps,” Tammy said.
Although the Arbogasts’ son is entering his final year of high school, Tammy and Kevin said they will continue to support the NMHS band even after Lane graduates.
“I’m sure we will contribute in some way,” Kevin said. “If nothing else, by helping the other kids and purchasing items from the fundraisers.”
And if the Arbogasts’ niece, who is in middle school, decides to participate in the band upon entering high school, Kevin and Tammy will likely find themselves in the same position they’re currently in.
“I imagine we will be right here in the thick of things doing it again for five years if she decides to be in the band,” Tammy said.
Email Kaylyn Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.