Courtesy of Anuta Research Center
Officers of the 1970 Menominee High School Band Parents Club huddle with Anton Peshek, director of the band program, to review activities for the school year. The club was an effective link to the MHS music department when it came to fund-raising activities and other forms of support and assistance. From left, Mrs. Robert Huffman, secretary; Mrs. John Bauman, treasurer; Peshek, and Mrs. Wilfred Hupy, president. Mrs. John Wormwood, vice-president, was not present when this 1970 photo was taken.
Courtesy of Anuta Research Center

Officers of the 1970 Menominee High School Band Parents Club huddle with Anton Peshek, director of the band program, to review activities for the school year. The club was an effective link to the MHS music department when it came to fund-raising activities and other forms of support and assistance. From left, Mrs. Robert Huffman, secretary; Mrs. John Bauman, treasurer; Peshek, and Mrs. Wilfred Hupy, president. Mrs. John Wormwood, vice-president, was not present when this 1970 photo was taken.

High school enrollments have dwindled in size in surrounding communities the past two or three decades, which has taken a toll on the number of participants in some extracurricular activities.

Not too many years ago, the Marinette and Menominee high school marching bands practically filled a football field when they strutted out to entertain large crowds at home games. The teams get most of the attention when the whistle blows, but it’s the cheerleaders who keep spectators bouncy with their spirited routines and the marching band with its snappy maneuvers and peppery music.

The performance of band members, however, goes well beyond a football outing. There’s concerts for students and the public, community parades and special events, and other activities. 

But like athletes who require assistance from booster groups inside and outside the high school ranks, musicians need boosters, too. 

Fifty years ago this fall, a small group of parents were chatting after a Menominee home football game. Parents of band members were honored at the Friday night game. The discussions centered on the need to organize a band parents’ club. Interest was high and the parents were serious about creating such an organization. 

A committee was chosen to look over a field of potential candidates who would provide the spark to organize a band parents’ club. The nominating committee included the Rev. and Mrs. J. Robert Ranck, Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Seidl, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Cornell and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Pfotenhauer. 

They came up with an enthused slate of officers that included Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Berge, co-presidents; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Huffman, co-vice-presidents; Mr. and Mrs. Howard Jozwiak to serve as partners as secretary; and Mr. and Mrs. John Wormwood who handled the duties of treasurer. 

The nominating committee also tapped Mr. and Mrs. Robert Howard to head the organization’s publicity; Mr. and Mrs. John Bauman were placed in charge of membership and recruiting and Mr. and Mrs. Cornell were assigned hospitality duties. Anton Peshek, who had headed the music department since 1965, was appointed the club’s adviser. 

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coming up, the group booked its first official business meeting for January 1969. With Kurt Berge holding the gavel, the newly formed Menominee High School Band Parents’ Club set out to chart a plan of action for its members. 

The objectives of the club were based on fundamental principles for a novice organization interested in protecting and promoting the talents of children interested in music: 

■  Stimulate and retain the spirit in the various segments of the band department at the middle school and high school. 

■  Provide moral and economic support to the program and co-operate with its department leaders, school administrators and the school board designed for producing an efficient department.

Membership was not limited to parents of band students. It was open to anyone interested in advancing the development of the band program. 

One of the main goals of the organization was to come up with a scholarship program that would provide students with the opportunity to attend a week-long summer band camp at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. The club offered to pay 50 percent of the costs for attending the camp. The student musician was to pay the other half of the cost. 

Students enrolled at the summer camp were placed into two groups — one group in concert band and the other in symphonic band. Each musician was required to audition for his/her chair. 

Drum majorettes and majors also were invited to attend the summer camp to advance their skills in parade maneuvers, dance-twirl routines, pompon choreography, flag techniques and advanced baton twirling. 

The Parents’ Club injected pride and enthusiasm in the entire band program that touched all corners of a fledgling program — elementary, middle school and high school students. 

The club sponsored the coveted John Philip Sousa award, for the first time, at the annual Pops Concert in May 1969. The award was given to a senior for his/her personal contribution to the program. Barry Rosene won the honor. 

Another major project for the organization was to inventory the quality of band uniforms. This responsibility fell into the hands of Mrs. Joseph Buyarski and her committee. 

The “Marching Maroons” were an instant hit at home football games and local parades.

“A crowd always responds to the roll of drums, the sound of horns and the melodious chime of the glockenspiel,” wrote the Menominee Herald-Leader in a 1968 story that featured the purpose of the newly formed Parents’ Club and its agenda.

The enthusiasm and excitement of the Parents’ Club, music students and the student body spread through the community as Peshek laid out an ambitious schedule of events that included a spring band concert of the 70-member band, a concert by the school orchestra, a performance by the middle school band and choir and a Pops Concert. 

Peshek also formed a “swing band” that was comprised of student musicians who did their rehearsals after regular school hours on their own. 

The formation of the Band Parents’ Club spurred Menominee High School to welcome one of the biggest and most eventful events of the school year in 1970 when it hosted the Upper Peninsula School Music Association Band and Orchestra Festival. About 1,400 student musicians marched into town from all corners of the U.P. with 20 bands and three orchestras to join hands with Menominee’s finest. 

A sparkling new high school, with a 3,500-seat gymnasium (largest gym in the U.P.) was dedicated a year earlier, and a well-groomed Blesch Auditorium, only 17 years old at the time, were ideal locations for such a large undertaking. It was the first time Menominee hosted the U.P. music festival since 1961. 

The high school enrollment was 1,150 students in grades 9-12 when it opened, which was more than double the size of present-day enrollment figures.

Funding for an enhanced music program, like in sports and other extracurricular activities, was a challenge that the Band Parents’ Club took on with vivacity. One of its major projects was the sale of household products. Providing a scholarship fund to sponsor eight students at the Northern Michigan University summer camp kept club members busy with other fundraising projects. Student musicians from Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana attended the music camp. 

The establishment of the Band Parents’ Club a half century ago was instrumental in providing the spirit and material needs of thousands of student musicians that followed. 

An old proverb had it right: “Music is harmony, harmony is perfection, perfection is our dream, and our dream is heaven.”