Bloomington students, district still feel impact of Harvey
Nov. 13, 2017 at 9:45 p.m.
BLOOMINGTON - As winter sets in, Brittany Rivera is trying to create a warm place for her Bloomington High School color guard team.
"The small band hall had six classes put in there, which meant band had to practice outside," said Rivera, volunteer color guard director. "If it rained, that meant short practice for them."
Rivera set up a GoFundMe page Oct. 20 to raise funds for upgrades to the school's band hall, including cubby areas and storage for band and color guard members' equipment.
After the hurricane, the band and color guard had to adjust and become flexible with their practice spaces, she said. The school's gym, which had been used for practice, was closed for hurricane repairs.
When bad weather approaches, the color guard has to practice in the band hall.
"The band hall doesn't have a high ceiling," she said. "They have to get on their knees to practice basic tosses."
This is the first year the color guard has had a director to teach them technique and skills, said Rivera.
Rivera hopes to create a Winter Guard team as the season changes, but she said the colder weather will make outside practice and finding an indoor practice space difficult.
"The uniform room is starting to fall apart," Rivera said. "The band has no proper storage for equipment, and color guard items are just put in a corner somewhere or wherever there is an open spot."
The minimal equipment available for color guard use creates a limit on the number of members who can join, she said.
The size of the band and color guard team has increased, she said. There are currently 30 band members and five color guard members.
Many band members have expressed interest in joining the color guard, Rivera said.
She created the GoFundMe page because much of the equipment, including instrument cleaning supplies, equipment and flags, is funded from the staff's pockets, Rivera said.
"Anything will help so these amazing, talented and outgoing students can get the band hall they have worked so hard for," she said.
Funds in the district are low, so the band is doing what it must, said band director Robert Coats.
"We are living out of a trailer," Coats said about the adjustments made after Harvey.
The band hall, field house and transportation barn were the only three buildings in the district untouched by the hurricane, he said.
Several chunks of temporary carpet were added to the band hall to act as dividers in the makeshift classroom space, he said. Plans to replace the carpet are scheduled for Christmas break.
Although the band got its space in the band hall back, content mastery and in-school suspension classes are still conducted in the hall's backrooms, he said.
Modular buildings were set up as temporary classroom and offices in the band's practice parking lot, so students are bused to the Bloomington Elementary School stadium for practice, Coats said.
Going into concert season, the band will continue to be without a space because the auditorium is closed for hurricane repairs, he said.
The Christmas concert's venue is planned to change to the elementary school's dome, he said.
Rivera's efforts are commendable, and the donations will go a long way, Coats said.
"We are here to help teenagers learn to do more than they think they can do," he said.
Day 1: Here comes Harvey
Day 2: Brace yourself
Day 3: 'Prayers protect us'
Day 5: 'At least God let us live'
Day 6: 'It's the luck of the draw'
Day 10: The Long Road Ahead (w/video)
Day 12: For some, normal still far away
Day 15: FEMA frustrates Harvey victims
Day 16: Displaced and in disarray
Day 18: Nature interrupted (w/video)
Day 19: 'It was like we had been bombed'
Day 42: 'Harvey broke me'
Day 55: Special delivery
Day 63: Housing after Harvey (w/video)