Tom Sweeney, Hickman's associate director of bands, right, checks the temperature of sophomore marcher Nora Humfeld before rehearsal Oct. 17 at Hickman High School in Columbia. Every student and staff member received a temperature reading before every rehearsal, and the band went the full season with zero cases of COVID-19.

And The Bands Marched On

Columbia's high school football games have had quiet halftimes this season. With COVID-19 still a concern for public schools and students across the city, marching bands have stayed home. But that doesn’t mean they weren't busy.

The marching bands have held marching camps, designed routines and and practiced steadily since the summer. The threat of COVID-19 forced the marching bands to increase safety measures: They used horn covers and flute guards, instituted daily temperature checks and pulled masks over their faces. With caution at the forefront, all three CPS schools marched through the season with zero cases of COVID-19. The hard work culminated in showcases for each of Columbia's three public high school marching bands. 

Although some schools participated in virtual contests, these showcases presented the students with their first — and final — chance to play to a live audience.


The Hickman color guard practices flag tosses Oct. 17 at Hickman High School in Columbia. The color guard had three different sets of flags for their performances this year.

A Battle High School student plays the melophone. The Battle students adorned their melophones with bandanas to help tell them apart and add their own personality.

Battle Highschool students practice their marching in the early morning. The band was not able to perform at football games this year, but still hosted a season and prepared a piece for competition.

Hickman senior Ellie Abernathy runs through the show with her bandmates Oct. 17 at Hickman High School in Columbia. Abernathy performed a flute solo at the end of the first piece of this year's show.

Color guard sophomore Ellie Martindale crawls across the field mid-backbend Oct. 17 at Hickman High School in Columbia. The Black Widow-themed show started with an eerie rendition of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."

Senior Rhondell Tipton finishes his drum major salute and prepares to conduct the band Wednesday at Battle High School in Columbia. Battle High School's three drum majors all wore capes with the school's colors while conducting the band.


About This Project

This project was the brainchild of Assistant Director of Photography Tristen Rouse who saw this story in its early stages. He guided me to the local high schools where I attended morning and evening practices as well as final performances. The project was edited by Madi Winfield who helped me funnel down thousands of photographs down to these final  8 photographs. And The Bands Marched On ran in the Columbia Missourian in October 2021. 

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