TOLEDO MAGAZINE

Evergreen High School band is a team of kids, adults, and community

10/12/2013
BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cheerleader and saxophone player Erica Harmen joins the band during halftime. 15 football players and seven cheerleaders are band members.
Cheerleader and saxophone player Erica Harmen joins the band during halftime. 15 football players and seven cheerleaders are band members.

Here is all you need to know about the Evergreen High School band’s role in its rural western Lucas County community:

Nearly one-third of the students at the high school are in the band, including cheerleaders, football players, and other athletes. Forget the usual social divide that delineates “band kids” from the rest of the student body. At Evergreen they’re all the same and that’s why you’ll see a cheerleader toss down her pom poms at half time, grab an instrument, and march with the band.

Band director Chris Lyons is in his 23rd year at the school and he chuckled when he noted that of the school’s roughly 380 students, 117 are in the band.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see more photos of the band

“It’s just a perfect storm of a lot of things. We’ve had a lot of great, great community support, administrative support,” he said. “We’ve been able recently to do a really good job, make it fun for the kids and make it meaningful. More than anything, we just have great kids. They’re smart, they’re funny, they get a lot done, and they’re hard workers.”

He works with assistant band director Carolyn Loebig to mold the band into marching shape starting in the summer. A trumpet player and educator, Mr. Lyons graduated from Start High School and the University of Toledo. Ms. Loebig went to Mentor High School and the University of Akron and she has her master’s degree from UT.

During the rough, hot practices they go out of their way to keep things positive and avoid harsh disciplinary approaches.

“That’s a delicate line to walk, but to me you’ve got to make the kid do it for the right reasons and not necessarily the fear of doing the wrong ones,” Mr. Lyons said.

The result is an experience that teaches discipline, commitment, and, perhaps most important, the power of teamwork, he said. He also focuses on life skills such as taking care of yourself, being responsible, and understanding that “the whole chain is as strong as its weakest link.”

It benefits Mr. Lyons, too.

“It keeps me young. My wife told me you never think you’re getting older because the kids you teach are always the same age,” he said. “There’s wisdom to that.”

He hopes the Evergreen community is as satisfied with the band as he is.

“I am most proud of the fact that we have students in our band that do everything. We have football players, we have basketball and volleyball players and cheerleaders and kids from all walks of student life. We make it possible for all of them to be in this group and to thrive in it.”

Contact Rod Lockwood at: rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.