There's no doubt that when the new expansion and renovations to the school are finished later this spring - providing new band and choir rooms - there will be smiles on the faces of the members.
But until then, the music lovers will have to find innovative ways to get things done.
Marching Band Director Ed Marsh, in his first year as head of the band, has concocted a number of ways to keep his students fresh and in practice. For starters, Marsh created the "Percussion Ensemble Cacophony" that helps keeps his drummers on beat all year round.
"Cacophony is a noun," states Marsh, who has also been a percussion instructor at the school for the past eight years, "and it means 'a harsh discordance of sound.' It's basically one way to keep our students doing something productive after the fall season."
The Cacophony currently has 18 members, all of whom are in the marching band as well, but are not all just percussionists. Many of the drummers in the ensemble also play other instruments such as the flute or saxophone. The marching band consists of approximately 80 students in grades seven through 12.
Football, parades, and even horse races
During the fall, the marching band plays at weekly football games, festivals and parades. The marching band, not to be confused with the school's concert band, also performed this past year in the Bayonne Columbus Day Parade, at the Hamiltonian Horse Race at the Meadowlands, and at their annual Halloween parades at the town's elementary schools.
Unfortunately, though, for now, the members of the Percussion Ensemble Cacophony are resigned to cramping into school classrooms to rehearse at their weekly Wednesday night meetings. With a school play currently in the works, the band members have been pushed off the stage in the school's cafetorium (think cafeteria plus auditorium) and into a nearby classroom. The students push all the desks aside and pull their drums, cymbals and xylophones into the rear of the room.
According to Marsh, Concert Band Director Rob Fournier has to compete with a full lunch period while conducting his band class during the school day. While the concert ensemble class uses the stage in the cafetorium, other students are having their lunch simultaneously. All that separates the two mediums is a stage curtain.
"Needless to say, it's going to be a big deal to all of our music students when we can move into the new band room," said Marsh. "The students are extremely grateful to the town for the new addition."
Still, music persists. Marsh, along with tons of help from the Secaucus High School Marching Band Parents Association, has organized a spring fundraiser that will raise money to help offset the costs of some spring band trips and a summer band camp.
The band trip is to take place in April, with the marching band making stops in Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. The summer band camp is a weeklong sleep-away camp that prepares the students for their upcoming fall agenda.
"Every time I mention to people how I am involved with the marching band and explain the summer camp, I get the same line in response - 'You know, this one time at band camp...,' " says Marsh, referring a popular line in the endlessly popular American Pie movie trilogy. "It gets kind of old, but the kids have a great time."
While the fundraiser has no set goal in mind, the hope is that the money raised will help offset the cost to each student, which is largely subsidized by the student's parents. This year's three-day weekend band trip will cost $350 per student.
Will help three groups
This year's marching band fundraiser aims to benefit numerous groups. Utilizing a clothes and fabrics drive for the needy, Marsh explains that the fundraiser helps three groups.
"First, it gives everyone a chance to clean out their closets," said Marsh. "Then the clothes go to homeless and needy people in Europe and Africa. Finally, the band gets some money to help fund our trips. Everyone wins."
The fundraiser will be held on three separate nights at the high school - Monday, Feb. 28, Tuesday, March 1, and Friday, March 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Any fabric-based item will be accepted including clothes, shoes, stuffed animals, sheets and towels.
On Saturday, March 5, a vendor will come to pick up the collected goods and pays the band a certain amount per pound.
"I think we get 10 cents a pound," said Marsh, "but it might even be more than that."
Besides the fundraiser, the band is also sponsoring a community service initiative whereby the students will bring in care packages to send to a military platoon serving in Iraq. The students are encouraged to bring decks of cards, toothbrushes, tea bags and munchies, enough for 15 soldiers, which will be bundled up and sent to the troops.
The initiative started when a former Secaucus band member, Luke Smetkowski, was injured in Iraq and returned home to tell his fellow band mates.
In addition to all of these ongoing activities, the Percussion Ensemble Cacophony remains focused on the main task on hand - an upcoming show on Wednesday, May 18 at the high school.
The ensemble invites everyone in town to come out and enjoy their show and asks that you do a little spring-cleaning and participate in this year's fundraiser.