Group plans tribute to fallen member, has sights set on Macy’s parade
Two weeks after one of their own was killed in an accident, the Cuthbertson band program want to honor his memory, both with a specially commissioned piece and also by performing in the Macy’s Parade.
14-year-old Paulo Pappa was killed May 17, when the car he was a passenger in collided with an oncoming vehicle on a wet Waxhaw road. Pappa was a student at Cuthbertson High and a member of the band program there.
“It’s tough, but we’ve grown closer as a family through this,” band director Todd Ebert said. The kids in the band wanted to do something special to pay tribute to their fallen friend, he said, so the group has commissioned a special original piece to be written. The band will perform the piece during their fall concert in October.
The band is also moving forward with another project, as they were one of twelve groups in the country to be selected for the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade. As a way to collect funds, both for the commissioned piece and for travel expenses to get to Macy’s, the band is holding a Walk-a-thon at Cuthbertson High June 4.
“We had to go through an application process, filming videos and getting recommendation letters,” Ebert said of the parade selection. The problem is collecting enough funds to send the kids to the parade, as school dollars are tight.
Ebert said it cost $650 a student for the trip, not taking into account transportation, which adds an extra $100 per person. That helps with gas for the trip, along with covering the cost to rent two to three charter buses. With between 120 to 130 students in band, plus chaperones, the group is struggling to find ways to cover the cost. Multiple fundraisers, such as the Walk-a-thon, have been scheduled, but the problem for the band has been getting the word out to a Waxhaw community split between three high schools.
“We haven’t really gotten the community support,” Ebert said. “It’s hard for people, there are so many schools. I mean Waxhaw itself services three different high schools and it’s not huge. It’s hard to get a community to support one school when their kids have expenses and they’re attending other ones.”
Also, as Cuthbertson isn’t even two years old yet, people are still learning it exists and about the different programs. The first year of the band program, there were 20 kids enrolled. Now, the band has 60 in the high school and just over 60 in middle school.
“I think we’re a really well kept secret,” band parent Kathy Patterson said. “When I signed my daughter up for band, I didn’t realize how involved the band is and really how much money it takes to run a band.”
Patterson pointed out the school often has to buy some of the larger instruments, such as bassoons or oboes, as they range from $7,000 to $10,000 each. With a limited budget, Cuthbertson students have to share instruments, between the high school and middle school. Also, Ebert borrows instruments from other schools when he can, for practices and performances.
“When we opened, we were very conscious of the money we had to spend and where we found ways to share between the schools, we did,” Ebert said.
With students already paying for things like uniforms and other related costs, he didn’t see how the school could expect them to tackle buying an instrument.
Both Patterson and Ebert also point to the dedication of the students, talking about how they come in to practice on Saturdays, from the morning to midafternoon, as well as holding band “boot camp” sessions during the summer and when school is out.
“These kids put a lot into being good,” Patterson said. “They’re dedicated, I mean who do you know that would work all week after school, then come in again on Saturday to do the same thing, to make sure their performance is perfect?”
The first fundraiser
The Macy’s performance will turn into a weeklong event, with the group arriving on Wednesday, to rehearse with other schools. Then since the kids are missing Thanksgiving dinner, all 12 programs will hold their own version on Thursday after the parade. On Friday, before heading home, the group will head to Disney. In order to get there however, the group starts by walking the full 500 miles.
At Saturday’s Walk-a-thon, each student will collect donations from those in attendance, then walk about 16 laps around the Cuthbertson track.
“We figured it’s 500 miles to get to Disney, so if we have about 90 students there to march, it’s about 16 laps per person,” Ebert said. “We’re gonna march the whole way and asking the community to walk with
Gates to Cuthbertson High open at 5pm Saturday, with walking starting at 6. The event runs from 6 p.m to midnight, Ebert said, with any donations welcome.