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Union County school band keeps marching after COVID-19 halted band performances

The Porter Ridge High School band said resiliency is what kept the music alive within their program in the midst of the pandemic.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Music has a bigger influence on some people.

“Music makes me feel alive," Porter Ridge High School band member Dionna Brockington said.

That can especially ring true when you’re the one playing for people.

“Not everyone can play an instrument, and it’s nice to know that I’m one of those lucky people that picked up an instrument and was able to play it,' Brockington said.

But when COVID-19 forced the Porter Ridge High School band to cancel all of its performances, the school’s band director Emmanuel Ross said they had to find another way to keep the music going.

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The Porter Ridge High School band got creative by holding socially distant holiday caroling, virtual concerts, virtual parades and fundraisers to keep students and the community engaged.

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Through disappointment, the band was able to spread joy.

“I remember an elderly woman coming up to us in tears saying 'Thank you for bringing this to us today. It's been so lonely,'" Ross recalled.

Brockington said it also helped her realize not to take her talent or peers for granted.

“I realized how important practice is during the pandemic," Brockington said. "I realized how important time is during the pandemic."

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Ross said what kept the band marching was resiliency.

“It has never been a conversation here at Porter Ridge about if our kids will be able to play, should our kids be able to play," Ross said. "It’s been 'What does the research say? What can we do safely and how can we do it the best for our students?'" Ross explained.

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Now that many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, the band is excited to go back to life the way it was before. 

“Band camp is right around the corner, and we’re doing our show this year about the ’60s," Ross said.

Contact Ruby Durham at rdurham@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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