They drive their cars.
They tolerate the heat, the cold, and the wind.
They lug instruments.
They clap and whoop and give out hugs.
And they sit in the sun to chaperone so the kids may have a good time at the Arizona State Fair.
Each year, Rim Country Middle School (RCMS) music teachers Mike Buskirk and Daria Mason trundle the band and choir kids onto a bus and drive down to the Arizona State Fair to entertain fair goers.
But this experience would not happen without the support of the band parents.
Band parents are a breed apart.
They willingly find the time to travel with the band whenever needed — even if that means taking off time from work and making a long drive.
They find vehicles to schlep heavy, unwieldy percussion and brass instruments.
They bring snacks.
And they do whatever they have to to make the kids comfortable. Even if that means carrying gallons of water in individual water bottles as they march around the fairgrounds in the Phoenix heat.
Band parents happily do all that for the kids.
“It’s for their enjoyment,” said Shad Wood, father of Carden.
Before he could say much more, a band member made her way through the resting band members.
“Oh my gosh! Where’s my water?”
Wood pulled out bottle after bottle until the one with her name came up. She grabbed it, took a long swallow and quickly returned to the line.
Parents and extracurricular activities go hand-in-hand.
Studies show children involved with activities outside regular school classes perform better inside the classroom.
A study by the Journal of School Health found that students who participate in extracurricular activities had higher levels of social, emotional and healthy behavior than those who did not participate. Moreover, filling students’ time with structured, fun activities focuses their attention away from drifting into harmful or even destructive activities.
Parents play a crucial role.
They encourage and support children participating in activities outside the regular school day.
Parents can make sure the coach or teacher of their child enriches the experience.
Even simply offering to drive to activities offers a chance to have a conversation on a broad range of topics and can take the place of that rare dinner-time conversation.
Buskirk and Mason are two teachers parents enjoy supporting. The couple gives up hours every week to run both the middle school and high school music programs.
After parents pull drums, gongs, bells, trumpets and sousaphones out of pickup trucks, Buskirk seems to effortlessly handle the middle school students. He lines them up, outside the fair gates, organizes them, then jumps in to play a cow bell in the percussion line as his drum major Veronica Volk leads the band.
He even keeps the fair crowd in line, too.
“Mam,” he said to a lady in an electronic wheelchair, “there’s a marching band behind you.”
She turned her head to see the group, and laughingly said as she wheeled away, “Just give me a pom-pom and I’ll shake it for you!”
Just as the parents do to support the RCMS marching band kids.