Smith-Cotton High School band students refuse to let their compatriots in Joplin go solo in efforts to rebuild the tornado-ravaged community’s music program.
Spurred by junior Caroline Decker, the band will host a carnival fundraiser Saturday, with proceeds being donated to the Joplin High School music program, which lost scores of instruments and between $800,000 and $1 million worth of sheet music in the May 22 tornado. Decker said a family friend had spoken with Joplin band director Rick Castor.
“He said kids were homeless, everything was gone, it was just sad,” said Decker. So she started working on ideas for a fundraiser, “You know, from one band to another.”
Decker shared her concept with friend and fellow band student Rachel Howieson, and the pair then went to S-C Director of Bands Brian Kloppenburg to make their pitch.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Kloppenburg said, adding, “I was a little scared about the logistics side, because we are in marching season.” Kloppenburg said he would handle communications with Joplin, but the students would have to handle the legwork.
“I was curious to see how they would do,” he said. “And they really stepped up.”
The event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the junior high band practice field on Broadway Boulevard, will include carnival games, food and drinks, face painting, pumpkin painting, a costume contest and a talent/karaoke show. It also will feature chances to throw pies at teachers and administrators, including S-C Principal Steve Triplett.
“As a principal, you sign on for all of that,” Triplett said. “The kids get a big kick out of it.”
Triplett has strong ties to Joplin, having attended Missouri Southern University on a soccer scholarship. “I still have a lot of friends there,” said Triplett, who visited the community earlier this year and said the devastation was unbelievable.
He praised Decker and Howieson for their hard work on creating the fundraiser. “I hope the general public comes out and supports them,” Triplett said.
As part of an episode of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which is in Joplin this week, singer/songwriter Barry Manilow on Thursday donated about $300,000 worth of instruments, including a grand piano, to the school, Decker said.
“It has been amazing, we almost have all the instruments we need,” he said. With some concert baritones and a couple of gongs, “We’ll be set for instruments.”
But the Joplin music program still needs money to purchase music, and that is where Saturday’s fundraiser comes in.
Decker said band students will be joined by National Honor Society members to run the carnival, which also got support from Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, which donated pumpkins to be painted, and Wendy’s, which donated chili that will be available for sale.
While there is no financial goal in mind, the band already raised more than $170 during the competition last weekend in Odessa by simply putting out containers and asking for donations.
“We hope the turnout (Saturday) is really good,” Decker said.