By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer
WEST END - After a long silence, the beat is back.
The newly constituted, 28-member Taft Senators Drum Line takes the field before the start of Friday night's football game.|
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
As the 28-member Senators Drum Line made its debut at Taft Information Technology High School's homecoming football game Friday night, Anthony G. Smith beamed. "It's like an old memory coming to life," he said as the burnished gold drums moved past him. "Music is supposed to be part of a school."
Now the school's principal, Smith is a 1973 graduate of Taft who drummed his way to a college scholarship - and it pains him to think that the school went without music for so many years between then and now. He's not even sure when there last was a music program at Taft - which was withering from neglect and the effects of poverty in the neighborhood.
But, for many who attended Friday's celebration, the return of the music is a sign that Taft is getting its groove back.
"They may live somewhere around here in poor housing, but these kids are experiencing something rich - and that has an impact," said Mike Ballard, a Norwood businessman who graduated from Taft in 1972.
Friday's debut was the product of three key ingredients: the students' enthusiasm, Smith's determination and Cincinnati Bell's support.
The drums-only band was attired in green shirts with gold letters. The band has been rehearsing for only a month, but had the crowd dancing, jumping and smiling.Band members arrive an hour before the school's 9 a.m. start - and often ask if they can practice after school, too, said Trina Carter of Bond Hill, the drum line's director.
"I just want to keep playing - but we've got to stop sometime," said Eric Barnett, 15, a freshman who serves as the drum line's section leader.
Vonitia "Nish" Wise, 17, of Golf Manor, said rehearsals are harder than most people might think, but worth it. "It's giving our school some positive recognition - and it's making me overcome my fears," she said. "I'm having so much fun, I feel like I'm on American Idol."
Smith said some people doubted the school could handle a 28-piece drum section. But he said, "I wanted the drum section to be that big, because then the other parts of the band would have to be big to go with that." By 2005, he hopes to have added woodwinds and brass sections, and "to have a whole 125-piece band."
Pam Williams of Springfield Township, the group's assistant director, said increased emphasis on more class time in recent years meant extracurricular programs such as band were cut. "But without it, the kids are hungry," she said. "They want to do other things. Now, the kids really feel like they belong to something."
Resurrecting the band took $100,000 - with Cincinnati Bell spearheading the fund-raising.
Jack Cassidy, president and CEO of Cincinnati Bell, said he first heard the drum line play two weeks ago, and "I don't mind telling you, I cried like a baby."
But the Chamber of Commerce invited Cincinnati Bell to visit the school and see what happened. The prospects looked bleak at first, but Cassidy said Smith made him into a believer.
"The guy looked me in the eye and said he'd do certain things - and then he did them," Cassidy said.
Besides making donations and securing other supporters, Cincinnati Bell employees have volunteered to spruce up the school and have mentored students, Cassidy said.
"Kids who have self-confidence, kids who have experienced success will make a difference," he said, "and these kids can be part of the success of Taft High School."
We're No. 1 - in airfare costs
How fares compare from CVG, other cities
Kids rewarded for showing up
Cardinal: Change will restore church
Writing on the wall for sculpture
'It's a sad end to a sad story'
IN THE TRISTATE
County workers threaten strike
Some in Norwood fight to sell homes
Spring Grove invites guests
Boy's suicide intensifies father's crusade
Marching band refuses to yield
Bronson: 'Married ... With Children' - not as seen on TV
Faith Matters: Educate yourself in Islam
Howard: Good Things Happening
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Man gets death sentence in murder of wife
Man guilty in kidnap, assault attempt
County signs off on soldiers
Historical society runs contest
Corwin Nixon in poor health
Computer viruses bedevil Miami University systems
John Watson, Clermont judge, county organizer
Geneva L. Frederick, 80, was homemaker, ex-Marine
'Captain' Morton Chapman, 91, owned the Anchor Grill
Publishers dusting off vintage comic characters
Radioactive reactor might be coming through Cincinnati
Soft mattress, dumplings greet soldier on vacation
Pension files get scrutiny
Man gets life term in pizza driver's murder
Safety becoming top priority for car buyers, experts report
Day-care owners quit amid inquiry into death
Lawyer caught in con's web
Gubernatorial hopefuls tangle in Bowling Green
Former Ky. Gov. Breathitt collapses
State Rep. Kerr switches to GOP
Appellate court favors liquor option
Ky. budget outlook brightens
Troopers to man checkpoints
Boone County zoning decision overturned
Kentucky News Briefs