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Casey band director most interested in improvement

August 21, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - The sound of music, rustle of new uniforms being tried on for size, swirl of flags and toss of faux rifles in the Casey County High School band room keeps band Director Lynn Justice jumping from one thing to another.

That was just one recent afternoon practice at the end of the school day for Justice, who usually works with the band until late in the evening.

"Things are going a lot smoother this year," said Justice after two weeks of classes to get the year off to a start. "The first year is to see how things are done. Now I know what to expect."

"The kids know me," said Justice. "I know their names and personalities and know those who need help."

She had a 30-member marching band last year, her first year to teach after graduating at Morehead State University.

The band has grown some, but Justice is still not satisfied. She's trying to recruit more members. She has a larger color guard and percussion section this year.

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First competition is Sept. 6

The band is preparing for the first competition Sept. 6 when the high school hosts the Casey County Classic. The competition will begin six weeks of contests.

Justice thinks a little competition is healthy, but her band is not out to win all of the time.

"Rather than win big each time, we try to consistently improve," she said.

"The art to winning is to beat ourselves."

Last year, the first competition was at the state fair and the scores kept going up in all areas in every contest. "The kids want to see the scores immediately after each competition."

Justice said the band has improved "a ton" since the start of last year.

"We've lost some really good players, but the ninth-graders have stepped up to fill the shoes of the graduating seniors."

"We practice each Saturday to get polished for the contests," she said. The band also went to Camp Crescendo in Lebanon Junction during the summer break for additional training.

New uniforms have boosted morale

Having new uniforms this fall has boosted the morale of band members.

They will get new traveling suits in Columbia blue and white in time for the first two competitions, then will get new dress uniforms later this fall.

New musical equipment for the percussion section also will help.

With school board approval, Justice is taking part of her $5,000 a year budget for the next three years to purchase new instruments.

Friends help with instruction for color guard, percussion and flag and rifle. Jeremy Stone of Campbellsville helps with percussion and Gwendolyn Holliday of Morehead comes once a week to help with the color guard.

"This gives the students the extra help and will make them better," said Justice, admitting she does not know that much about those areas of band.

"This will help the band to grow," she said. "The percussion has improved 100 percent."

The band will be involved in winter events that are more artistic and will keep the members active.

Justice has found Casey County to be much like her native county

Justice, who grew up in rural Pike County, has found that Casey County is much like her native county.

"Everyone here is so pleasant and wants to reach out," she said. "The community is very close and has always been supportive of the band. ... People go out of their way to help out."

When Justice started at CCHS, Principal Tim Goodlett said he wanted to see more discipline and a source of pride in the band.

"Discipline is one of my major strengths," said Justice, adding that she does not have discipline problems.

"Once they saw I was committed, they (students) changed."

"I don't have time for those being late to class and not wanting to do what I want them to," she said. "The kids know what I want. I don't have time to waste on discipline".

"The students are not rude and they don't talk back, that's why I stayed here," said Justice. "They are a different quality of kids, not like those in some larger schools."

Most of the financial help comes from band boosters who ask local businesses and industry for donations throughout the year.

In return, the band plays at local events, including special ceremonies for veterans.

The band did a concert in March at Disney World in Florida. The performance was in front of a large crown on a waterfront with a sunset in the background.

"It was an awesome experience for the kids," she said.

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