FAIRMONT - As many teachers are winding down their school year, Fairmont Jr./Sr. High band teacher Kate Kallenbach is gearing up for two months of intense activity.
Kallenbach is preparing not only for typical end-of-year activities, but also for a move of her entire department to the old Kmart building; the beginning of marching band practice; three parades in three weeks; and the final touches on the triannual field trip to Washington D.C, New York and Massachusetts.
The move to Kmart is in response to work being done at the high school over the summer that renders the band practice space unavailable. A scramble to find a place to accommodate nearly 100 kids, their instruments and - perhaps most importantly - working bathrooms, was on.
The Fairmont High School band performs under the direction of Kate Kallenbach at the school’s Performing Arts Center.
"We had no place to go," Kallenbach said.
Work also is scheduled at Five Lakes Elementary during the summer, and the streets surrounding Budd School are too busy to practice on.
During a casual conversation in the school hallway, someone suggested using the former retail space, but Kallenbach initially had reservations.
"I thought it would cost a lot of money," she said.
Nevertheless, she contacted Sears, which owns the building, and was surprised to find it was happy to allow use of the building - with no charge.
There is a small business run out of the building, but it had no reservations about the students practicing there, Kallenbach said.
"They just wanted to do what was right for the kids and the community," she said. "Everyone was very gracious."
The band starts marching June 8, which gives Kallenbach about two days after the band's commencement performance to move "a whole fleet of of instruments, stands and chairs," to the new location. After the band season ends in July, Sears is allowing the district to store its equipment there until the school building is available again in the fall.
There the band will polish its marching and music from 7 a.m. to noon four to five mornings per week while preparing for its summer parade schedule, set to kick off at Fairmont's IHD Summer Festival on June 19.
Within hours of the band's last parade performance, students and chaperones will begin loading two motorcoaches in preparation for driving to the East Coast for a tour as well as performances.
Kallenbach says the band takes a trip every three years, and all band members between eighth grade and seniors are eligible to go. For this trip, 98 students and 10 chaperones paid their way to see a tour of Washington, D.C., perform at the U.S. Capitol, explore the Smithsonian Institution, the Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery.
They will then make their way to New York, where they will take in a Broadway show, visit the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero, and possibly watch a taping of the Today Show on NBC.
A tour of the Freedom Trail in Boston and a parade in Wakefield, Mass., rounds out the 10-day trip.
Kallenbach said many other sights and performances are tentatively scheduled, but likely won't be confirmed until closer to the June 28 departure date.
Students have been raising funds for the trip for quite some time. Kallenbach said many have either paid out of pocket or raised the $1,250 fee.
Nevertheless, one more fund-raiser is in the works. Kallenbach is hosting a band garage sale between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. May 22 at 640 Shoreacres Drive. Students are donating items - anything except clothing and shoes - and proceeds will go to their accounts. Those who have raised the entire amount with be able to use the funds for spending money, as not all meals or souvenirs are covered in the cost of the trip.