Loss of home games leaves OHS Band budget in jeopardy

OKEECHOBEE — Losing two home games has an obvious effect on the Okeechobee High School football team. They have to travel more, lose home field advantage, and lose ticket sales for those games. But less obvious are the effects on the OHS Band. A large portion of the band’s budget each year is derived from concession sales at home football games. OHS band director Clint LaFlam estimates that the band’s budget could lose $4,000 to $6,000 this year from those missing sales.

That loss could have an effect on repairing broken instruments, buying new instruments, and travel expenses for the band.

“We have to use six school buses and a semi-truck to get the kids and equipment to anywhere we need to go,” explained Mr. LaFlam. “That’s one of the big things with travel right now. But looking past the budget issues, we miss out on performances. That’s a big thing for the kids; they aren’t in front of the audiences like we’re used to. It’s a morale thing for our school. We’re not having that home event. Friday night in Okeechobee — that’s football night. If a football game is going on, the community is going to be here.”

The band had other fund raisers planned throughout the school year, but unfortunately they were set before the band knew about the loss of the home games. Mr. LaFlam is now trying to schedule additional fund raisers in order to help cover the costs. In the meantime the band has their annual cheesecake fund raiser, which begins Sept. 14, where you can buy cheesecakes from band members to help support the program. There’s also the Christmas card stroll in the park, where local businesses can buy a blank 8×4 board to paint with their holiday greeting, which is then displayed in Flagler Park throughout the month of December.

One of the new fund raisers still in the planning stages is a haunted house this October. In what would be a collaborative effort with the band, drama department and the art club.

“We want to try to get a full fine arts haunted house for a few days in October,” Mr. LaFlam said, “Our thinking is we could charge $5 a person. We’ll have the kids in there and let them do the set-up, design and the scaring. We’ve been graciously given the opportunity to use the new Steve Dobbs engineering facility, which has 300 square feet of room for us to use.”

Cheryl Worlow, current president of Band Boosters of Okeechobee County Inc., is working with Mr. LaFlam and his wife Courtney LaFlam to help raise funds.

“We’re limited in what we can do,” said Ms. Worlow. “Next year we’re going to need at least 25 to 30 uniforms that are about $500 a piece to fit every student. With the LaFlams and the band, no student is turned away because they can’t pay. Everybody who wants to participate, participates. And the fees are handled on a case-by-case basis with the LaFlams. I really like that, because you never want to turn away a child from participating in something they love because of the financial part of it.”

Steve Dobbs, who is a former president of the Band Boosters, offered his newly purchased engineering building for the proposed haunted house in October.

“We’re still early in the planning phase of the haunted house,” Ms. Worlow said before adding, “We need to form a committee with the parents and the people at the high school who could help with that, see what kind of interest we could get. I think the kids would be really excited for it. The Interact club, which is a high school club with quite a few band members in it, has offered their support, as well as the Rotary Club.”

If you’re looking for ways you could help, or if you have inquiries about supporting the cheesecake and Christmas card fund raisers, email ohsbandboosters18@gmail.com. You can also ‘like’ the official Okeechobee High School Brahman Band on Facebook to keep up with their performances and fund raising updates.

“The Christmas Stroll in the Park is one that would be great for the community to jump in on,” Mr. LaFlam said. “Schools, churches, doctor’s offices. We’d love to get some newer local businesses involved too. It’s great advertising and it decorates the west side of the park really well. Our cheesecake fund raiser in September is typically a good one for us. We can make up a lot of our losses if we sell like we have in the past. We’ve been doing that one since 1997. The Okeechobee community is great, we always have people coming out to support us. A lot of times it is just by word of mouth, but we’re going to try to advertise more what we do this year.”

The OHS band’s first performance will be at the Labor Day parade on Sept. 4.

Mr. Clint LaFlam, OHS Band Director

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