SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Roosevelt High School marching band has been working for the past three weeks to prepare for their upcoming marching band season. 

With a new turf field to practice and perform on, RHS band members are ready to debut their 2023 show, “Encounters,” for their families and community. The alien abduction themed showcase features songs from the soundtrack of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” by John Williams and “ET” by Katy Perry.

“The best way I can describe it is if you put ‘Signs’ the movie into a marching band show,” Nicole Decker, the RHS band director, said. 

Their first public performance of the season is Saturday, August 19 at Howard Wood Field at 7 p.m. High school band members will have the opportunity to work with professional musicians at the Roosevelt Band Clinic during the day before performing with their marching bands in the evening. 

Tickets to the clinic are $10 a person and can be purchased at the doors. At this time, the event is still going on as planned, but if the heat index gets too strong over the weekend, the clinic will be postponed. 

RHS has 90 members this year, which is about 20 more than when Decker started at Roosevelt. The band used to average over 100 members, but with the split into Jefferson a few years ago, changing of band directors and COVID, the numbers dipped to 72 in 2021, but they are starting to build the band back up again. 

Decker joined RHS three years ago after teaching in Madison for five years. She said it was hard to leave Madison, but she’s proud of the band she’s created at Roosevelt.

“I spent five years building the program I wanted in Madison and then just had to leave it so that was hard,” Decker said. “It was a hard transition, but I feel like this year especially feels more like the program I’m wanting and the program I’m going after again.”

This year is particularly special for Decker as she is now seeing the students who were just starting band her first year at Roosevelt become upperclassmen, find their stride with their instruments and see them take on more leadership roles.

“When I started teaching, I could see a kid walking in that is really not excited about high school or has two friends in their whole world. Now all of a sudden they have 90 friends,” Decker said. “It’s really cool to see the change that people can have in a short amount of time.”

Makenzi Petersen, a senior who used to play the flute but is in her second year as drum major, said the added responsibility makes her appreciate band and the final product of their performance even more. 

“It really holds you accountable and gives you a lot of responsibility and respect for yourself and others that you have to step into that position to make sure that the band is benefiting from all of the hard work that we’re doing,” Petersen said. “Every time you perform, it’s such a big feeling of this thing that you’ve accomplished, especially when you can do that with the people that you love and your friends.” 

Decker said this year the students have worked harder than she has ever seen before and students are certainly noticing their own effort. Ryker Bruns, a junior mellophone player, said the band usually puts in several hundred hours into their season. 

This year, Bruns is serving as a morale captain where he and the other captain are in charge of making sure the band is cooperating and focused during rehearsals as well as creating team bonding games to help welcome new members into the band. 

“We create games at different times during the day to give us a brain break and relax from doing the hard work, but also building relationships with one another and having fun,” Bruns said.