Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | Haughton High band director Kevin Williams (left) looks on as the Big Red Buccaneer Band stands at attention. The band has been working hard this summer preparing for the upcoming marching season.

Summer break is nearing an end and the Haughton High School Big Red Buccaneer Band is hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year.

The first step to the new year is summer band rehearsals, where students spend several weeks learning marching technique and instrumentals.

“Getting them out here in the summer is a big step,” director Kevin Williams said. “Summer band isn’t necessarily the fun part, but it definitely leads up to it.”

The band will have a few surprises in store for football fans this fall. Their halftime show is going the non-traditional route with a theme based on Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

“The whole idea is to do things you typically wouldn’t see on the field,” Williams explained. “It’s an interesting concept with some voice narrations. I’m keeping the rest a secret to see if we can pull it off.”

Senior Thomas White is a second year drum major for the band. He said this year’s show will be different and a challenge that everyone is excited about.

“The drill itself is harder. There are more drill counts to learn and harder formations to line up just right,” White said. “There’s something about the music, too, that they are really getting into this year. We’re just excited and we can’t wait to show what we’ve been working on. ”

Senior Meagan McMillian is one of three color guard captains this year. She said their job will be even more important with the visual effects they are incorporating into the show.

“The band tells the story through sound. It’s our job to portray it visually and with our emotions,” McMillian said. “It’s a well known poem. We’re doing things this year that we’ve always wanted to do on the field.”

One of the things McMillian is looking forward to is using sabres on the field.

“This is either the first time ever or the first time in a long time we’re using them in a show,” she said. “It’s going to be a really cool show this year.”

Williams is entering his 17th year as director. At that time, there were 18 students in the band. Today, the group is nearing 150 members. Williams attributes their growth to a supportive community and school.

He has made two very important rules clear from the beginning — do the right thing and have fun. That’s something senior Cheyenne Norman instills as a section leader.

“In my section, we’re all different but we share the same common goal. We want to better ourselves as musicians and people. We want to do better for us,” Norman said.

Phil McMillian has watched his children grow up in the Haughton High School Big Red Buccaneer Band.

“Band makes great kids and great kids make a great band,” he said. “This group is incredible. These are some of the best friends they will ever have. We love it.”