Bands

MCPS to send pep bands to future state tournaments

2013-03-11T20:30:00Z 2013-03-14T19:33:35Z MCPS to send pep bands to future state tournaments missoulian.com

There was an obvious absence when Missoula’s high school basketball teams took the court in Great Falls for State AA championship games last weekend.

While parents and fans cheered the Hellgate High School boys and the Sentinel High School girls to victory – and their noise lifted the rafters – there was no music to accompany the mayhem.

Unlike all the other districts in the state, Missoula County Public Schools does not allow high school pep bands to travel to state championship tournaments.

Although the lack of pep bands and the fact that neither Hellgate nor Sentinel heard their school song as they were crowned champions was keenly felt by many students, parents and alumni, it’s been more than 12 years since Missoula sent pep bands to state tournaments, said Mark Thane, a MCPS regional director.

“We clearly need to establish a protocol so that our pep bands can attend these events,” Thane said Monday, in response to complaints several Missoula parents shared with the Missoulian. “There is nothing we can do to go back and deal with the situation, as it happened last weekend, but Dr. Apostle and I have discussed this and protocols will be developed so bands may attend these events.”

School administrators heard at least one request to have Hellgate’s band at the tournament, but the request came on Friday, which was too late in the tournament cycle to organize the band and a bus trip to Great Falls, Thane said.

Although the exact details about when and why MCPS stopped sending pep bands to championship tournaments have been lost to time, the policy came after a Billings state basketball tournament in the mid-1980s, said John Combs, MCPS fine arts director.

That year, the boys’ basketball teams from all three of Missoula’s urban high schools played in the tourney, and each school sent along its cheerleaders, drill teams and pep bands.

“It cost a bucket load and, as I remember, when Dennis Kraft, who was the superintendent at that time, learned about what it cost, he was steamed,” Combs said.

After that, new rules were made and pep bands were told they couldn’t travel to the tournaments unless the games were within 200 miles of Missoula.

Sometime in the late 1990s, the rule changed again and bands didn’t go at all because of the cost, Combs said. Since then, the topic has never surfaced – until this weekend.

“I don’t have the budget for it and the decision has never been up to me,” Combs said. “Going on the road for tournaments is an athletic event, so it’s never been up to me or involved me.

“It’s the district’s decision.”

To that end, MCPS hopes its school songs will be heard far from home next year, when basketball championship titles will be defended and fought for.

“We are going to pull together to identify a funding stream so we could send bands to these tournaments,” Thane said. “It is definitely something we need to be more proactive about.”

Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at bcohen@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. dave ajou
    Report Abuse
    dave ajou - March 12, 2013 3:17 pm
    You absolutely have to be joking. The things the Missoulian censors are amazing. I stated this morning that the band should be able to go, utilizing money already allocated. In this case the Hellgate girl's basketball allocation could have been used for the band. Apparently somebody there thinks it's more important to bury a 2-65 record, no fault of the girls, instead of actually digging in to why any school would retain anybody with that abysmal record. I think the point is valid, why can't the money, once allocated, be moved around within a school ?
  2. sportscaster
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    sportscaster - March 12, 2013 10:26 am
    One more step out of the Dark Ages for MCPS. And it shouldn't be for just one day of the tournament, either. It's been an embarrassment for Missoula not to have their bands at these tournaments!
  3. MT oldie
    Report Abuse
    MT oldie - March 12, 2013 10:24 am
    Looking for a funding stream? Try Dr. Apostle's salary increase...
  4. PK67
    Report Abuse
    PK67 - March 12, 2013 9:58 am
    Doesn't anyone want to know how much it costs? What if it costs as much as one full time teacher? Would you still choose music as a game?
  5. The Fox
    Report Abuse
    The Fox - March 12, 2013 6:06 am
    It is quite amazing that with all the music lovers in Missoula,this has not been addressed! Imagine the Griz games without the marching band.That wouldn't happen! Moral will improve,as well as,the atmosphere at the games for players and spectators!
  6. jabo
    Report Abuse
    jabo - March 12, 2013 1:05 am
    I played in band and on hellgates basketball team in mid 70s. Band could go to tourney for one day. Perfect
  7. unknowncommenter
    Report Abuse
    unknowncommenter - March 12, 2013 12:39 am
    lets just make sure that there aren't any transfer students playing in that band lol
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