Highlands Marching Band Raises Money For The Loss Of Kiski Band Member.
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This past summer, on June 19, 2016, Nick Ursiny accidentally fatally shot himself. He was a fifteen year old mellophone player in the Kiski area marching band. He would have been a sophomore this school year. The Kiski marching band has been raising money in order to hire a music composer. The band plans on having a composer write an original piece that the band can play in Nick’s memory.
When the Highlands High School marching band heard about Nick’s sudden death and that he was a fellow musician, the band felt that it hit close to home. Some students even knew Nick. The band council, made up of Kira Lester, Emily Crawford, Erik Frantz, Larkin Richards, Georgia Peters, Cera Dickerson, and myself, decided that the Highlands band should raise money to help out the Kiski band. We wanted to do something fun to raise money, we didn’t want just the normal asking for money or a normal hoagie sale. We brainstormed and finally came up with this idea; why not a competition between the grades? Each grade got their own colored bucket and every day during band class, after school practice, and football games, the buckets were out and kids would put some money in their grades bucket. Everyday I counted the money and announced who was winning. It was a very close race almost the entire time. The band loved the competition and the fact that it was going towards something that didn’t benefit us directly made everyone feel exceptionally good.
In the end, after a few weeks of the bucket challenge, bringing attention to the community during games and Stadium Highlights, we raised a total of $1,100. Kira Lester, Emily Crawford, Larkin Richards, and I presented the money to the Kiski band during one of our days off when Kiski still had school. They were shocked to say the least. Some students cried, others thanked us endlessly and some were speechless. The two directors thanked us and we stayed after and talked to some band members.
After the presentation, I interviewed Emily, Larkin, and Kira about the experience and this is what they had to say.
What was your original reaction when hearing about Nick’s death?
E. Even though I didn’t know him personally, the reality of it still hit me. It was hard to accept the fact that we would never be able to see him make music with the rest of his classmates again.
K. I was in shock, and knowing he was a part of one of our close bands, it made me feel even worse. I wanted to help in whatever way I could.
L. I wasn’t sure if i could really believe someone so young had to go through something so tragic. He still had a full life to live and a whole lot more music to make and experience. I could only think about what he could’ve lived on to be and what he could’ve always accomplished. I just think about his life and what his legacy would have been.
What did you think when you heard the idea of raising money?
E. I honestly loved the idea. I wanted to help them, and I wanted our band to help contribute.
K. I thought it was the perfect thing to do. Highlands band loves to help out any way we can, in any situation and we wanted Kiski to know we care about them too.
L. When I heard we were raising money I felt like we’ve just achieved the world. I knew this money was going towards something so special to Kiski. This money was going to create something in honor of a teenager’s life gone too soon.
How much money did you think we would raise compared to the $1,100 we did raise?
E. Honestly, I thought we would raise MAYBE $200. I never thought that the band would be so competitive about it. The community was also very giving and generous with helping us out.
K. I think with the amount of people in our band, and the complete support we got from the community, we could’ve raised at least $3,000.
L. I figured we would raise a few hundred. Maybe just contribute the slightest and say our condolences. But I really really wanted to make sure we were going to get somewhere, I knew all of the band wanted to be successful.
Did you like the idea of a competition between grades?
E. Yes! It gave the band a drive to raise more money. When the grades were close, you really saw them coming together. Everyone seemed to take part!
K. Yeah. Everyone likes a competition. It was a good way to get everyone involved in the process without doing the normal hoagie fundraiser.
L. Yes! It gave the idea that the best grade to raise money really wanted to see this piece of music happen. Everyone cared so much.