Van Horn High School has enjoyed many milestones in its first year as part of the Independence School system, but none could surpass a performance by a 16-piece marching band that entertained fans at halftime of the Lincoln Prep contest at Independence All-School Stadium.

Van Horn High School has enjoyed many milestones in its first year as part of the Independence School system, but none could surpass a performance by a 16-piece marching band that entertained fans at halftime of the Lincoln Prep contest at Independence All-School Stadium.

That’s because it was the first time in recent memory that the Falcons band had performed at a football game.

And to borrow a baseball term, director Jon Rosenthal’s band hit one out of the park.

“I like to say we’re small, but mighty,” said Rosenthal, whose group received a heart-felt standing ovation from the Falcon faithful.

“The kids were nervous before they went out – and I was a bit nervous too. But what a wonderful experience. I hope our members of the band and the fans who were watching realize that it was a milestone – something very, very special in the history of Van Horn High School.”

Katie Stroud, also a standout member of the surprising Falcons volleyball team, said she put her “game face” on the parking lot before the band took to the field, much like preparing for a sporting event.

“I don’t know which is more special,” Stroud said, “the band or the volleyball team. We are playing so well on the volleyball team, and the band is just so special. When Mr. Rosenthal told us that there really hadn’t been a band here before, we were like, ‘Let’s make this band something special.’ And I think we have done that.

“Before I play volleyball, I get that nervous kind of excitement, and that’s what I felt out in the parking lot, while we were warming up to perform at halftime.”

When asked about the reaction of the crowd, she simply smiled and said, “I think they liked it as much as we did.”

At many area high schools, a halftime performance by the home team’s band is a given.

“When I heard they didn’t have a band here in the past I was really surprised,” said sophomore Kayla Smith, a volleyball teammate of Stroud’s who was working the All-School Stadium concession stand.

“I heard they used to have metal detectors at the high school – but they’re gone this year. I came over to Van Horn from Lincoln Prep and I heard some bad things about the school.

“But now that I’m a part of Van Horn High School, I love it. I love to watch Katie and the band, and the crowd really got into that halftime show. And you wouldn’t believe how many people come to watch us play volleyball. They cheer 24/7 and all the girls love that.

“I can’t tell you what it was like at Van Horn in the past, but now, it’s the best school. The gymnasium has been painted in red and gray – our school colors – and they just painted the cafeteria.

“We have volleyball players in the band and so many kids play different sports so we are always out supporting each other. We just got done playing a volleyball match and I just came over to the (football) game to work the concession stand because  I don’t want to miss anything.”

Like the marching band, the drama department is also enjoying somewhat of a first as the Neil Simon play “Barefoot in the Park,” will be presented by Van Horn students in December.

“When you think of Van Horn High School, the first word that comes to mind is pride,” Dr. Jim Hinson, superintendent of the Independence School District said. “Pride and ownership. We are so, so proud to have Van Horn as a part of our school district.

“How on earth can you not feel pride, and that special feeling that just warms your heart, when you look out there and see the marching band perform at halftime? Especially when you know that it’s been years and years since they have been able to do something like that.”

The band not only performed at halftime of each Van Horn game since that Lincoln Prep-Falcons contest, it marched in the homecoming parade.

“That was as much fun as the halftime show,” Stroud said. “I think I saw every teacher and administrator in the school at the parade and if a student wasn’t on a float or marching with a team or club, they were lining the streets cheering for us. It wasn’t like that last year. This is like an entirely different school and experience – and it’s so much better. I wish I could put into words how much better it is this year.”

While this year has been special, Rosenthal believes this is just the first step toward a bright and promising future.

“I love baseball, so let me put this in baseball terms,” he said, smiling. “We have a great farm system at the middle school, which means the band is going to do nothing but get bigger and better because we have enthusiastic young musicians who know that they can be a part of the band at the high school level.

“We have great students who consistently rise to the occasion. If we continue to grow, I won’t be able to say we’re small, but mighty. I guess you could say we’ll just be mighty.”

And mighty darned good.