This is the text of a note that Branden Hansen (Roseburg director) posted on the Oregon Band Directors facebook group yesterday.
From: Branden Hansen:
I wanted to quickly say thank you to all the band directors and friends who have showed so much support to my students and to the Roseburg community in general during this difficult time. Yesterday was a wonderful day for the band students at Roseburg High and if you want you can read an e-mail I sent out to my band parents below that shows just how important music can be during tragedies such as these. Mainly though I just wanted to share a picture with you all. The day after the UCC shooting, I laid a huge piece of butcher paper out that said “What are you thankful for? What upsets you? Just write.” Students shared all manner of thoughts but one comment really struck me. A student wrote (with characteristically poor penmanship) “I’m thankful for my band family.” I know that in every band room, including yours, the same sentiment is shared, both in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Like each of you, I have always believed music to be about far more important things than notes and rhythms. However, after the horrible events of Thursday I believe notion this more strongly than ever before.
Thank you for your thoughts towards Roseburg and for fostering “band families” in your rooms every day. I hope your students never have to face an event like this but I am comforted to know that if they do, they have music, as well as their band family, to turn to.
______ E-Mail Sent To Parents ______
Band Parents, Students, and Friends abroad,
I know many of you have received an overabundance of e-mails, facebook posts, and the like from me in the last few days but I just feel that I have to share with you a summary of some of the Roseburg High School band’s activities yesterday. My heart is genuinely overwhelmed to see the goodness in my students, in Roseburg, my wonderful home, and also in the countless friends and strangers from afar that have offered their support. In this terribly dark time, the students and I have been able to learn so much about love and compassion.
As many of you know, the Roseburg High School Marching Ensemble was planning on attending and competing in the Pacific Coast Invitational at Sprague High School yesterday. Our district wisely chose to cancel all school activities through the weekend in order to allow students the opportunity to be with their families. However, the band students at Roseburg wanted to do something in response to everything that had befallen our lovely town. On Saturday the students pet together several impromptu performance throughout the community, yes to raise money for the UCC Relief Fund, but more importantly to spread joy and provide some brightness to our community that has suffered so greatly. In just a two short hours the students raised well over $2,000 that will go towards the families whose lives have been tragically impacted. It was overwhelming to see how much comfort our community took from this demonstration of service on the part of the students. Many people came up crying, giving hugs, and bonding together like this community has in the recent days.
After this, several students and parents still wanted to travel to Salem to be spectators at the marching competition. They didn’t want to allow the wicked violence of the UCC tragedy to stop them from participating in something they enjoy so much. With that heart, about 50 students and 30 parents and band alumni caravanned up to Salem. I can not tell you enough how truly moving the whole experience was. EVERYONE at Sprague High School made their love for our community and our band students apparent. Roseburg spectators were allowed into the event for free, students from all the participating bands signed a giant poster that read “We Love Roseburg,” the audience gave a standing ovation to the students for being there to selflessly support other bands, and to cap off the whole evening, the Roseburg Marching Ensemble was awarded the “PCI Spirit Award.” The announcer spoke on how inspiring it was to see so many Roseburg students still make the trip to selflessly support their fellow musicians and friends in light of all that had happened. When the award was announced, uniformed students from several other bands ran over and began embracing our kids. The stadium began chanting “Roseburg, Roseburg, Roseburg!” It was easily the happiest I have seen my students since Thursday. I cried along with several other parents to see the kids so happy, when just days before some of them lost very dear friends forever. I am so grateful for the people at Sprague High School and at the Pacific Coast Invitational who allowed the students this wonderful healing opportunity.
We gathered together in the parking the lot before everyone left for the night and quietly talked about how in this time of great darkness, it is so apparent, so blatantly obvious, how much love there is around us. We sang the Roseburg Alma Mater as a group which ends with the following lines: “From the Umpqua’s banks, sounds the call afar. In defeat or victory it’s ‘Hail, old Roseburg, hail!’” The RHS band students were truly victorious this past weekend and demonstrated the resilient and loving spirit that fills all of Roseburg.