Send Them to Hawaii!


Shadow Mountain High located in Arizona
Shadow Mountain High located in Arizona

Pearl Harbor and Shadow Mountain High

by Durrilion

How does a small Arizona High School band connect to Pearl Harbor? When that school’s band is the only one chosen to represent the state of Arizona at the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing, where the USS Arizona sank, it seems pretty clear.

USS Arizona circa 1930
USS Arizona circa 1930

I had the chance, thanks to a friend of a friend, to speak with Mr. Natan Simon Shadow Mountain’s Band Director.  With ten years of teaching experience, Mr. Simon has been directing the band for five years.  This year’s band has been playing since August, and according to Mr. Simon is doing really well, as are all of the performing arts groups of Shadow Mountain High.

Now you are all probably asking how this relates to geek culture… take a moment and think about it.  How many of us were in school bands or choirs growing up? Mr. Simon himself said he collected a lot of Wolverine comics as a kid, and that Pop Culture Classics was his favorite store growing up here in Arizona.  I was in my high school choir, and loved Elfquest, Star Trek, and Dr Who, among other titles.

When Mr. Simon received the invitation to perform at the 75th anniversary, he was stunned.  Who wouldn’t be? Large events like this usually go to larger bands with larger bank accounts.  He contacted the man in charge of the parade.  While specific details about the selection process could not be given, the Colonel did say he has former military personnel with musical backgrounds across the country who send suggestions.  All he would tell Mr. Simon was that Shadow Mountain High’s band was chosen by someone who knows music.

Mr. Simon and I agreed that it was an honor to be chosen.  Apparently they will also be the only band in the parade which is the only officially recognized event.  The trip will last for 4 days and 3 nights (not counting flight time).  While in Hawaii, Mr. Simon is preparing for an educational experience as well.  Sorry students, no spoilers on the lesson plans.  Mr. Simon and the rest of the faculty are keeping that under wraps for now.  Keep an eye on your student emails for all those links he sends you.  That information may be important later.

What does it take to send an entire High School band 2,910 miles across the Pacific Ocean? Keep in mind they have musical instruments, uniforms, and their own luggage.  Mr. Simon has set a goal of $150,000 to take the entire band, and their equipment on this once in a lifetime trip.  While the majority of the funds are earmarked for this opportunity, any funds remaining will help keep the band program going in the future.

Mr. Simon’s plan for the parade performance is a medley of the songs of the Armed Forces branches, as well as a piece by Bob Louden which is a favorite at commencements.

So, how can we as a community help? The school has set up a gofundme account

This is the easiest way for anyone to donate.  It is possible to send checks to the school, just make sure to write ‘Band’ in the memo line.  Keep in mind, per Arizona tax laws single persons can only donate up to $200, married persons can donate a combined total of $400.  These donations can be a school tax credit for Arizona residents when filing tax returns for 2016.  Residents of other states are advised to speak with tax professionals in their states.

The deadline for donations is July 15 2016.  After that date, the school risks too many non-refundable deposits, and they want to minimize financial losses if possible.

With full financial support this small high school will take trip of a lifetime, perform in their first out of state show, and change their school’s band program forever.

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