Students hustle into the auditorium, eager to find and sit with their friends despite instruction to sit as a class. A sophomore kicks off the show by singing a sentimental ballad, and the audience quickly whip out their phones. A few synchronized dances and a tear jerking poem later and students are released to go to lunch.
With the exception of 2016, in which Wilson’s annual student talent show was disrupted by a false fire alarm resulting in a school wide evacuation, the scene described above is typical to the event. This year however, the show was concluded with a student moshpit and audience wide cheering as Wilson’s drumline performed for one of the first times in recent memory.
Wilson’s drumline was founded around nine years ago, according to music teacher Paul Phifer. The drumline was originally a part of Wilson’s “Green Machine” marching band, but began rehearsing as a unit and competing in their own events. While both the marching band and the drumline dissolved over the past few years due to lack of participation, a few active students sought to bring the drumline back.
Junior Ashton Roberts and sophomore Marc Pena were inspired to start the program after participating in the MusicianShip at Wilson over the summer, where one of their conductors was a former Wilson drumline member. The non-profit organization offers music lessons, and focuses on building self esteem through music education. Roberts now serves as captain, and Pena holds a subordinate leadership position.
The new drumline consists of around 12 members who vary in music experience. “We’ve had a complete turn over from four or five years ago. A lot of those people graduated so we’ve pretty much had to start over,” said Phifer.
Many Wilson drumline alumni have been active in helping the new band learn and grow, attending practices on Mondays and Wednesdays to help coach new members. “We have instructors that come, they were part of the old drum line that was here in 2012,” said Roberts. “They were really really good so they’re helping us to become better and to reach our potential.”
The team plans to practice year round, with hopes of being ready for competitions and showcases in the spring. “They’re not competing with other drum lines yet, but they are doing school wide performances,” said Phifer. “They are still rehearsing now even though football season is pretty much coming to an end, and maybe they’ll be able to do basketball season too.”
Prior to performing at the talent show, the group performed for students in the atrium at STEP. They have since performed at the pep rally with other band members, and were featured in Wilson’s fall production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” The drumline is still accepting new members, and interested students can contact Mr. Phifer or Ashton.
Roberts is looking forward to seeing the program grow, “I listened to one of our first recordings of a cadence that we played and it was the first time that we ever cut off at the same time,” he said. “All of us were so hyped about that, and whenever I listen, it makes me really happy first of all, but then also it makes me want to do more with it.”