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Alumni Band Rescues Aliquippa High School Marching Band Just In Time For Homecoming

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The pandemic silenced many things for more than a year and a half, including live music.

In Aliquippa, the high school marching band is among many programs around the region that took a hit. The band just couldn't rebound until it found some extra help.

A special group is making sure the band stays together.

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(Photo Credit: Kevin Newton)

"I couldn't imagine a Friday night football game without having that band, without having that signature da, da, da being played when the kids' names were announced," Dr. Phillip Woods, superintendent of the Aliquippa School District, told KDKA News.

The legacy of a grand marching band in Aliquippa is synonymous with the district's rich football tradition.

"Being in the pit on a Friday night, the atmosphere is just unbelievable. I've never seen it anywhere else," said Kevin Newton, organizer for the alumni band.

Newton got involved in marching band as a child, first holding the banner until he was old enough to play.

"I can't let a program I've grown up with completely die. So I needed to do something in order to help it," Newton said.

When Newton learned his former high school band only had five members, nowhere near enough to field an entire marching band, he drummed up an idea.

"I almost thought about going to another school and playing until I heard about the alumni band happening," band member Michael Kron told KDKA.

That's right, an alumni band.

"It's been beautiful to see the community come together," Dr. Woods said.

The band has now ballooned to more than thirty members, with alumni and professional musicians from Robert Morris University and the Beaver County Wind Symphonic Ensemble all playing alongside the students.

"They bring like an old vibe energy because you know how old most of them are. But most of them, they still got it for how old they are really," said Kron, a senior.

Without a true student band, there were no boosters or band parents to help. But the district said the community stepped up to help fill that void.

"I'm really appreciative of them coming out and helping us for our senior year really, and they're a lot of fun," Kron said.

There are now plans to rebuild the band program. The Aliquippa School Board recently approved and posted a full-time music teacher position. The board is looking for someone to help the music play for years to come.

Aliquippa plays Montour on Friday for its homecoming game. The superintendent said everyone is counting this as a win regardless of the final score.

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