NEWS: Marching band embodies family through practice and devotion


Mia Graske

PEHS marching band performs at a home football game on Sept. 8th

Mia Graske, Editor-in-Chief

Synergy and positivity have proven to be core elements of marching band.

The band directors and students alike contribute to these factors in a plethora of ways.

Assistant band director, Jenna Wodjula said, “I like to make sure that students understand the fundamentals of how to achieve a skill… I make sure that they understand the how and the why.”

Wodjula takes inspiration from Leonard Bernstein and his accomplishments.

“He was such a huge advocate for music education, and would go out of his way to make music more accessible to the general public. He made his life’s mission to break down those barriers,” Wodjula said.

An encouraging atmosphere is also created through the band directors and their faith in the students.

Band director David Lesniak said, “We believe that every student has potential and then from there, kind of take them from where they’re at to the next step.”

Lesniak’s passion for band was fostered by his own band directors.

  “I think the person that got me into band was my 5th and 6th grade band directors and my high school band director, because at several points along the way they talked to me about band and being part of it,” Lesniak said.

The close community of band is portrayed in the students. 

“I think that especially because of marching band, it connects all the grade levels, like with all other classes you become friends with people who are within a year of your grade level,” Senior, snare drum player, and section leader, Obinna Ohale said.

In band, unity is amplified in friendships.

Wodjula said, “You’re communicating, you’re agreeing, you’re working together as a team. Through that teamwork, students find that they make friends and genuinely enjoy being here.”

These bonds make the entirety of band fun for students.

Senior, tenor saxophone player, and music section leader, Kayleen Odasco said, “The bus rides to competitions.. We’re building blanket forts in the back, and we have cookies. It’s just fun being all together.”

Amidst the friendship and good things, a common misconception about marching band is the stereotypes about the students.

These stereotypes include believing students in the marching band are geeks or weird.

Senior and drum major, Hayden Valkema said, “I think some of the clichés from the rest of the student body.. They’re like ‘oh you’re a band kid’… they don’t necessarily like to be associated with band kids sometimes.”

“It’s just doing something we like, something we have a passion for, just like if someone were to play a sport,” Senior, oboe player, and head of color guard, Emma Butler said.

Similar to students in school sports, students in marching band get P.E. exemption.

“We get P.E. exemption from band the full year… we’re getting the same benefits, but we’re not getting the same recognition,” Butler said.

Students in the Plainfield East marching band put in plenty of time into their craft: “Every day during study hall, I check out a room and practice,” Senior, trumpet player, and section leader, Mason Thulin said.

This effort carries on into performances and the emotions the students in marching band and color guard feel.

“I get nervous sometimes, but then all the adrenaline, for me personally as a spinning guard hits me. It’s a passion; it’s a good feeling,” Butler said.

All this time and effort does not go to waste after high school. Marching band carries on to other aspects of life, directly or indirectly.

“For me where I’m going, they don’t really have an actual marching band, because it’s out of the country. The band they do have, they play for their ROTC stuff, so I’m excited for that,” Odasco said.

Plainfield East marching band continuously has people coming back from life after high school. 

“We have some alumni that come in and help us sometimes,” Thulin said.

Alumni are also kept in mind, even if they do not return to Plainfield East.

“You’re remembered when you join band. When you go off to college or join the workforce, you leave a banner,” Odasco said.

The students are everything to band. Wodjula said, “Specifically, my favorite part about teaching the kids is that lightbulb moment, where either they get something that they’ve been working on, or you see that spark in their eye. I enjoy it that much.” 

Band is always welcoming new people, and considering the community and ambiance of band, when it comes to joining. Lesniak said, “Just do it. Nike, just do it.”

The end goal of band for the directors is to showcase the talent within the band and color guard.

“We just would like to invite people to come and see our performances and cheer loudly at football games. We love to spread the hardwork and the talent these kids have with the entire community,” Lesniak said.