McLendon makes an impassioned plea to support ‘the largest Raider Band in history’

Former Marching Raider seeks funding, support from Hamlet City Council

By Kevin Spradlin

* Previous coverage: Raider Band selling ads for football program

HAMLET — Lisa McLendon made an impassioned plea on Tuesday night before her hometown Hamlet City Council for support, and maybe a little funding, of what she hopes will be “the largest Raider Band in history.”

Kevin Spradlin | Lisa McLendon, a Hamlet native, addresses the Hamlet City Council on Tuesday about the importance of band in students' lives and an Alumni Band Night planned for Oct. 31.

Kevin Spradlin |
Lisa McLendon, a Hamlet native, addresses the Hamlet City Council on Tuesday about the importance of band in students’ lives and an Alumni Band Night planned for Oct. 31.

McLendon and other Richmond Marching Raider Band are planning a reunion night on Friday, Oct. 31, when the Raiders football team hosts Pinecrest. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. McLendon said former Marching Raider band members will be on the field with current band members for the Star-Spangled Banner and in the stands for the school’s fight songs and other numbers sure to keep the home crowd pumped.

Count Sybil Carter in, who will bring her daughter, 2014 graduate Micaela Davis. Victoria Benson Arick said on Facebook she will “try to get my rifle skills back” and Cindy Coleman Terry posted that “I’ll be there … still got my trumpet.” “I still have my old clarinet,” wrote Kim Andersen.

McLendon told council members that the band’s glory days featured a procession of 200 musicians in the mid- to late 1970s. That number is now down to 65. Across the middle schools in the county, McLendon said, there used to be between 1,400 and 1,500 students enrolled in band activities. That number is now about 350 students countywide.

McLendon recalled some of the highlights of those glory days, including performances in Dallas, at the Kentucky Derby, at DisneyWorld and in Washington D.C. In the 1982-83 season, the band garnered 53 trophies, which shattered the school record, McLendon said.

And in a grand national competition in Johnson City, Tenn., the Marching Raiders were ranked in the top 1 percent of the nation’s high school marching bands for two straight years.

“We were there with the best,” she said. “We worked hard to get there. We owed it to the community, our supporters … We were pushed to the limit, challenged at every turn. We excelled.”

Now, McLendon said, it’s time for today’s adults to give back to tomorrow’s leaders. She said it costs $400 to support a single band student through the season but the program is funded at 25 cents per students. The gap must be made up by the community, she said.

“It should not always fall to the educators to teach everything,” McLendon said. “It should come back to the community. We see this as an investment in our youth, an investment in the future of this county.”

The Alumni Night will feature band members “from our first graduating class through the 2014 class,” McLendon said.

“We will join forces with the current band and create the largest Raider Band in history,” she said. “Our goal is a minimum of 400 alumni. We have commitments from Atlanta, Louisiana, Arkansas … and a gentleman in Afghanistan.”

But to make the one-time event an ongoing show of support of current Raider Band members, “we need funding.”

“We hope to purchase merchandise so that we can register for the Seaboard Festival (in October),” McLendon said. “There is currently very little money.”

She cited the band’s needs for music instruments, supplies and fuel to travel to performances.

It isn’t only about the money, McLendon said. The effort needs volunteers, too.

“We hope that our passion will reach other members of the community such as yourselves,” she told council members. “Take a chance on us. Let us take a chance on these children. We owe it to them.”

The Raiders Marching Band, which last performed June 13 for Richmond Senior High School’s 41st annual commencement exercise at Raider Stadium, is scheduled to perform in at least 18 football games, parades and competitions through Dec. 31 — not including any playoff games.

The council did not discuss funding the effort at any level during the public meeting.

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News

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