This year's Bexley High School homecoming halftime show Friday, Nov. 1, will indeed bring home alumni of the Bexley Lions Marching Pride, the school's marching band.
Current and past members have been rehearsing for both the pregame and halftime shows for the Bexley Lions' football game against the Columbus Academy Vikings, which is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"The goal is putting the alumni together," band director Andy Johnson said.
Retired band directors Mike Jenks and Jeff Schneider have been helping to lead rehearsals and orchestrate the performances, Johnson said. Schneider, a 1972 Bexley graduate, said he has enjoyed working with the current and previous band directors. Jenks was Bexley's band director from Schneider's freshman year in 1968 until Schneider took over in 1979.
Schneider, who served as Bexley's band director until spring 2007, said among his fondest memories of his tenure are trips to perform at football bowl games around the country.
"We went to the Outback Bowl three or four times and we went to the Peach Bowl one year," he said. "Those are really memorable trips we took."
A preview of the Bexley Lions Marching Pride's reunion took place during Bexley's citywide Independence Day parade in July. Recent Bexley graduates Leila Sereki and Brett Lauerhass, who are now University of Cincinnati students, organized the Fourth of July performance, which included about 20 alumni band members.
Sereki and Lauerhass said they came up with the idea for this year's homecoming alumni reunion after participating in the 2018 Bexley High School homecoming reunion as band members.
"After homecoming last year, we were talking to Mr. Johnson and we said, 'We'd really like to come back and play with the band; I'm sure a lot of people would, too,' " said Sereki, who plays clarinet and majors in music education at the University of Cincinnati. "Bexley is close to our hearts, because that's where we grew up."
Lauerhass said any alumni band member can participate, and they don't even need to bring an instrument.
"We have plenty of instruments" that alumni members can use during the show, he said. "There's no cost associated with the event at all. All you have to do is sign up."
During the pregame show, the band will perform the Bexley Lions fight song, "Onward Bexley," as well as "Bexley Honor."
During the halftime show, current band members will perform a Motown tribute with Steve Wonder's "Sir Duke" and "Higher Ground." Alumni band members will perform Ohio's state rock song, "Hang On Sloopy," and the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'."
Johnson said he chose to perform a Motown tribute for the halftime show because the music is timeless and offers complexity for young musicians who are still mastering their instruments.
"It's well-written, it's entertaining and it's educationally sound," he said.
At the homecoming show, Schneider said, he's looking forward to "seeing old faces and not just people that I had as students, but also, hopefully, some people I went to school with."
Schneider, who lives in Eastmoor, has maintained his connection to his alma mater. He continues to coach track and basketball and assists Johnson with band performances from time to time.
"When I'm here a lot of times and people will walk in and they see me, they're like, 'What are you still doing here?' I'm like, 'Where else would I be? I went to school here,' " Johnson said. "This is like home."
Alumni band members who would like to participate in the reunion show may register by visiting the Bexley High School Alumni Band Facebook page.