Betsy Band prepares for new year with band camp

School starts in about a month, but Elizabethton High School’s band is already hard at work, getting up early in the morning for the past week as they practice for the upcoming school year.

The Elizabethton High School Betsy Band is gearing up for the new school year with their annual band camp, bringing the high schoolers out to the fields as early as 8:30 in the morning to practice their ensembles and maneuvers.

Betsy Band Director Perry Elliott said the camp lasts a week and is the start of their official season.

“Our main goal is to have a product that is very entertaining,” Elliott said.

The other two main goals of the band are to support the football team the best they can once that season begins, as well as participating in local and national competitions in order to hone their skills.

The Betsy Band participates in many school functions as well as local, state and national competitions. This year, Elliott said they have three such competitions on the schedule.

The first is Johnson City’s Band of America competition, which is nationally ranked. This will be the first of its kind the Betsy Band has participated in for the past decade. Another is a competition in Knoxville, and then the annual Tennessee Second Division State Championship.

All of that preparation and practice begins with 135 band members standing in rows in the EHS practice field at 8:30 in the morning and rehearsing everything.

“The students are coming in with a high level of optimism,” he said.

This level of optimism comes from the general culture surrounding the Betsy Band. For most schools, Elliott said they can expect roughly 7 percent participation in the school’s band. For EHS, that statistic is closer to 20 percent, meaning roughly a fifth of the school is involved with the Betsy Band in some way.

“For a school our size, we are thrilled,” he said.

This is even more impressive, he said, because many of these students also hold jobs, other commitments or even just avid students in and of themselves, making their yearly participation in the band even more meaningful.

“They will work as hard as they can to represent this school and community,” Elliott said.

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