Summer band camp is set to begin shortly for the Waxahachie High School marching band, with high expectations rivaling the hot temperatures and high humidity forecast for the months of July and August.

The Spirit of Waxahachie Indian Band is going into a state year for marching contest. In Texas, marching bands compete for the state title every other year.

The WHS band program is working toward a second consecutive invitation to the Texas UIL Division 4A State Marching Band Contest which will be held in San Antonio in November.

With different areas to polish before prime time, WISD director of bands Rich Armstrong elaborated during a recent interview on the different aspects of band camp.

“Band camp began June 4 for the color guard and the drum line, with the color guard continuing to meet on a weekly basis for skill development,” Armstrong said. “The drum majors and section leaders will attend two days of intense leadership skill strengthening on Aug. 2 and 3, after which the entire marching band — 26 color guards, 100 winds and 37 percussions — will begin band camp.”

The band will consist of two weeks of “two-a-days” from 8 a.m.-noon and then again from 1-5 p.m., followed by one week of evening rehearsals. The majority of the band camp, which will occur on the high school parking lot, will concentrate on the various marching elements and developing the show for 2007.

Key for Armstrong is seeing students develop their leadership skills, which are reviewed and upgraded for the betterment of the band program.

As with any successful organization, Armstrong agreed that certain leadership skills are essential for the program’s continued perfection.

“These skills include teaching and working with other students, motivating and encouraging others, and effectively communicating the goals of our band as well as the direction of our program,” Armstrong said.

“We will also do team-building exercises because our ultimate goal is to be exceptional in what we do and developing as many strong players as possible because this is the true key to excellence,” he said. “Strong players will perform with confidence and with a competitive spirit, always striving to do better and always striving for the next level. We want to develop strength, accountability, responsibility and work ethics throughout all aspects of our program because these are concepts that will remain with the students throughout life. Although a lot of what we do is band-oriented, these are basic fundamentals to a successful career and life when applied in a consistent and disciplined manner.”

Armstrong and the WHS band are no strangers to competition, having received numerous awards and establishing a history of earning straight division one ratings at UIL marching competitions.

“We always go into competitions with high expectations, and I believe this is one of the reasons for our achievements,” he said. “With the amount of time we spend working to perfect our program and to make it happen, we expect to be good — nothing less. We want to be competitive and one of the very best and we think that we are.”

Not expecting anything less than the best from his group, Armstrong said he sees tremendous effort and determination each time he marches alongside the band.

“The band has a strong, solid foundation and now we want to continue to build … to be consistent, yet constantly improving and continuing to produce in years to come,” he said. “Much of our success is a direct result of the great support from the boosters, the parents, the teachers, the staff, the community and the district. We all work hard and I believe that these kids can be the greatest and all of these combined components will help them to achieve exactly that.

“I’m extremely proud of them, their hard work and unlimited dedication,” he said.

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@waxahachiedailylight.com