Flexibility, resilience, hallmarks of Florence’s Big Red Band

By Alexa Haik

“We have been prepping our show, the ‘Greatest Showman,’ since mid-July…working on it daily,” says Band Director Beau Robinson. And it was due to this dedication and commitment that Florence’s Big Red Band secured an overall superior rating at the MHSAA’s State Marching Band Evaluation held in October.

Where did flexibility and resilience come into the picture? Robinson explains that “We don’t have a [practice] space currently…if you have driven past Florence High School the past year, there is a lot of construction going on, and we currently don’t have a band hall, [or] a practice field, either.” With the bond issue for Rankin County School District that passed a few years ago, Florence High School has been in the process of improvements, which will include a brand new band hall.

It would have been easy, Robinson says, for the band to shirk responsibility…no band hall, no practice field, and all of the complications that have arisen since the onset of COVID-19, and go home with the easy scores. But the band director wanted to push the kids past whatever excuses they could easily come up with. The result? This year’s show was competitive, perhaps a bit more competitive than some of the neighboring schools.

The Big Red Band was able to secure the superior scores using a shed as a covered rehearsal spot and a parking lot as their practice field. That said, receiving those ratings was a big morale boost for the kids, who were coming off a year where the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the band from competing at all.

The students, faculty, and staff of Florence High School continue to patiently await a new fine arts facility. Eventually, it will include ten classrooms, science labs, and a multipurpose room, as well as a band hall and a choir room.

Robinson looks to the future with enthusiasm: “Our band hall will be fantastic once the construction is done, [and] they are expecting it to be done in March.” In the meantime, they will practice patience, making do with what they have. Practice, practice, and more practice.

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