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Islander pride takes over Battle Ground
A new marching band in the Vancouver area needed uniforms. Their colors are maroon and white. The Mercer Island High School band just happened to have some left over.
After the Mercer Island High School marching band got their first new uniforms in 30 years, paid for by a campaign called “March to March,” whereby the money was raised from August 2008 to May of 2009, they had about 70 uniforms left that were still in pretty decent shape, many of them in small sizes.
As one might imagine, there’s not a huge market for used uniforms with the words ‘Mercer Island High School’ emblazoned on the back.
In Battle Ground, Wash., northeast of Vancouver, George Izzet, the band director at Daybreak Middle School, was shopping around for uniforms for his fledgling band. Izzet said last year was the fourth year for the band program at Daybreak, but after a rotating cast of directors the program had just “gone to heck.”
When Izzet took over the Daybreak band program in the spring of 2010, he had three weeks to put together a marching band for a local parade.
“Then I started thinking, if we’re going to do this, I want real uniforms,” he said. He was determined to get the band on the right track, and felt that uniforms would make the kids feel more confident.
Izzet had been a band director before, and his father was the district coordinator for the music programs in the Portland school district. Izzet contacted Stanbury uniforms, the company that MIHS bought its new band uniforms from, and realized brand new uniforms were out of reach for his band financially.
“We’re a Title I school,” Izzet explained, “but the district is very supportive of music.”
Jim Pundmann, the regional representative at Stanbury Uniforms, told Izzet that maybe he’d want to look at the old uniforms that MIHS had — after all, their school colors were the same.
Izzet called Parker Bixby, the band director at MIHS, and a deal was struck.
“This is a small community that wanted to do something new and exciting,” Bixby said. “George just wanted to get them in uniform and give the kids something to be proud of.”
And they fit, given these are younger kids.
Battle Ground paid $700 up front for the uniforms, and will pay another $700 when they can. Bixby said it’s no rush; he knows they are good for it. The money went into the MIHS band’s uniform reserve fund to keep the new uniforms clean and sharp.
Bixby said the old uniforms that were too threadbare have been, and still are, being made into pillows that they sell, returning that money to the reserve fund as well.
Izzet said his kids looked sharp when they marched in and won their division in the Jr. Rose parade in Portland in June, even though the uniforms still have Mercer Island embroidered on them.
“I called Parker and told him — he was so jacked,” Izzet said.
Izzet said he’d like to bring his band up here sometime for a clinic with Bixby. Izzet said Bixby told him that he has some old instruments laying around that they might be interested in, too.
Izzet is also taking the uniforms to a tailor in Portland to see if they can figure out a way to stitch Battle Ground over Mercer Island with a patch or new lettering.
“I really appreciate what Parker did,” Izzet said.