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FHS welcomes back band alumni

Above: Fairmont High School band members, from left, Lilly Laven, Hannah Botzet, Norah Traetow and Kelsey Hunter, hold up photos from past band trips and senior classes.

FAIRMONT — Homecoming. A time to welcome back former students and reflect on the shared values and culture of a common institution. This year Fairmont High School is welcoming back all FHS band alumni to play the school song during halftime at the homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 24.

The alumni will join current band students in grades 9-12. High school band teacher Kate Kallenbach shared that she thought homecoming was a great time to bring everyone together, especially since gatherings haven’t taken place in quite some time.

“The pandemic has been so hard on the performing arts, and the arts in general. We had one last performance last year, the senior showcase, so it was only the seniors of the band, choir and orchestra groups. This gives us an opportunity to perform outside in a safe and healthy manner,” Kallenbach said.

The school district posted the notice on its social media pages last Friday and Kallenbach said she began getting messages and emails from interested people that same day.

“It kind of blew up,” said Kallenbach.

She said the event will include flags, rifles and batons, so anyone with experience in those areas is welcome.

“We also invited those who moved to Fairmont and were maybe band members at a different district. If they consider themselves Cardinals now, we’d love for them to join us,” Kallenbach said.

She name-dropped a few examples of Fairmont Area Schools teachers and administrators.

“Kathleen Walker didn’t graduate from here but she’s a fabulous trumpet player. Molly Bleess is doing it and so are Katie and Andrew Hoaglund. We have former alumni who will be re-learning their instruments and their parts like Alex Schmidt,” Kallenbach said.

She said Todd Segar and his wife, Naomi, who graduated in 1989 together with Kallenbach, will be in it. Former flag twirlers, Jeanne Garbers and Emily Labes also are taking part.

Kallenbach said she continues to hear from people who are interested in being involved. She’s heard from someone from the class of 1970 that plans to be there.

“Everyday I ask my students to raise their hand if they’ve gotten someone to join us for homecoming and more and more hands go up every time I ask,” Kallenbach said.

She’s excited about the number of people who have reached out so far, but has high hopes that more people will turn up for the event.

“I would love to have more people on the field than in the bleachers,” Kallenbach admitted.

She said they can all play the school song together, get a roaring applause and then they can march over to the east entrance of the field and make a tunnel for the Cardinal football field to walk through.

“We traditionally do that but how cool would it be to double our numbers and have our alumni join us,” Kallenbach said.

If anyone is interested in participating, or has questions, they can email Kallenbach at CKallenbach@fairmont.k12.mn.us. She said if people would like to practice beforehand, there’s a recording on Youtube, which can be found by searching “the real FHS school song.”

“I’ll be happy to set anyone up with music and if they don’t have an instrument I’ll do my best to find something for them,” Kallenbach said.

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