Lincoln-Way Marching Bands Unite
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In less than two weeks, the newly unified Lincoln-Way Marching Band will make their entrance as one. The band will hold their first public performance during the Mokena Fourth of July parade, with over 300 student participants.

Director Christopher Mroczek says, "Competitively, our experience and numbers put us in a place to do very well...better than any of us could do individually. To build character, provide leadership development, and create a unified community--these are all reasons we're doing this. Kids and families are extremely excited." Director Cary Ruklic agrees, saying that the decision to combine marching bands came from a desire to create harmony, "figuratively and literally," among schools and the community.

Serious discussion of combining all four Lincoln-Way Marching Bands began in fall of 2015, and stemmed from various people. Parents initially suggested to the Board of Education that the unification would pose many benefits for students. Meanwhile, Marching Band Directors, Bert Johnson, Justin Barnish, Christopher Mroczek and Cary Ruklic had been toying with the idea for years.

With the opening of Lincoln-Way North and Lincoln-Way West in 2008 and 2009, students split off from the two larger schools, causing newly-formed bands to go through an adjustment period of learning how to compensate for smaller numbers. Johnson explains, "Part of the mentality that we had to adopt put us in a position where we had four different bands doing four different things. Then the comparisons started." The music department contemplated combining bands as the number of schools grew, but the idea became even more appealing this past fall.

Seeing the need for unity and the benefits that it would provide, the directors polled parents and students for their input on a unified District Marching Band. The results were overwhelming; over 90 percent of students and 89 percent of parents stated that they would like to combine bands. "One of the first things we've noticed with the united band initiative is that the parents are excited because they know their child is going to have the same experience," says Director Justin Barnish.

Students' sentiments echo Barnish's. "It's nice to have the band come together. It shows everyone that we are one as a community and that we are one band competing together instead of against each other," explains one member.

Sponsorship Director Kim Hansen says she also looks forward to the year. As a former marcher herself, Hansen saw how the united band, in addition to benefiting the community, would also help the students. "Meeting new friends in the district and spending time practicing together really promotes excitement and provides a healing piece for the community. Our Sponsorship Program also allows the community to connect with the band by providing meals, travel expenses and equipment, and offers benefits to those who choose to participate." Hansen's ten-year-old has already expressed his own excitement to attend Lincoln-Way schools, stating that he "can't wait to join the band."

Community members are invited to celebrate the Lincoln-Way Marching Band debut on July 4, 2016 at the Mokena Parade. The students will also hold their annual car washes on Saturday, June 25 at each high school. All proceeds will benefit Lincoln-Way Music. The locations and times are listed below:

Lincoln-Way Central Parking Lot: 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Lincoln-Way East Parking Lot: 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Lincoln-Way West Parking Lot: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Those who wish to learn more about the band can visit http://www.lincolnwaymusic.org/lwmb.html. Those interested in the sponsorship program are encouraged to contact Kim Hansen at lwmsponsorship@gmail.com.