Grandview Heights High School marching band members will return from camp this weekend with limber fingers, stronger legs and brains full of this year's music and formations.
During the six-day camp at Wittenberg University in Springfield, the band is working on the components that will make up the five programs performed at this season's home football games.
But the students also are bonding as a unit, band director Chris Herrmann said.
"That's always a big part of the band-camp experience," he said. "We'll have a fun activity every night, whether it's playing board games, spending time in the pool or the dance on the last night, which is always the students' favorite.
"When it comes to band camp, I like to say that we work hard and play hard and have a lot of fun," Herrmann said.
More than 100 students are part of this year's band, with the squad evenly divided among the four classes, he said.
"We have a good group of seniors who provide excellent leadership, but we also have a large influx of new freshmen joining the band this year," Herrmann said.
"We're lucky in Grandview because the middle school band program is so strong," he said. "Our students in eighth grade are performing at a level that is above and beyond the eighth-grade standard curve. They came to high school already with a head start."
As a result, the gulf between seniors and freshmen isn't as large as might be expected, Herrmann said.
The shows the band will perform at home football games are:
* Aug. 29: a salute to boy bands, including music by the Jonas Brothers and NSYNC
* Sept. 13: for Alumni Night, a Salute to America to pay tribute to first responders and members of the military
* Sept. 20: homecoming and a tribute to the Jackson musical family.
* Oct. 11: the music of Queen
* Oct. 18: Senior Night, with music selected by seniors
"We try to do something different for each show during a student's four years in the band, so they never have to repeat," Herrmann said. "That variety helps them improve as musicians."
After they return from camp, band members will hold the annual decal drive from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 28.
The event is the largest fundraiser for the band program.
Teams of students will visit every household in the district, offering window decals to residents in exchange for a donation to the program. Students will leave a donation request and envelope in the doors of residents who aren't home.
Proceeds from the event benefit band students at both the middle school and high school, according to the band's website. The money is used to help reduce the cost of camp for students, pay for instruments and repairs, pay for cleaning and mending uniforms and pay for the use of copyrighted music.