As published in the Record Journal, Tuesday December 27, 2011
By Melissa Chicker
WALLINGFORD — The marching bands at Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools have teamed together to encourage the community to vote in a contest that could result in a $50,000 grant for new uniforms.
“Combining our efforts gets more people of the community involved,” Sheehan band director David Giardina said. “We thought if we combine the two schools in this competition, we will get a lot more votes and give us a better chance to win the grant.”
The schools are competing as one against 322 other groups around the country in a contest sponsored by the Pepsi Refresh Project, which gives away millions of dollars each month. The top 10 groups in the competition that ends on Saturday will receive $50,000.
“Grants are for wide-reaching ideas and with groups and organizations putting in significant time and effort,” officials said on the Pepsi Refresh Project website.
The grant would go toward about 125 uniforms for each of the two marching bands. Each new uniform costs at least $500, setting a steep total price of up to $140,000.
Uniforms, said Giardina, typically last 10 to 13 years. Sheehan’s uniforms are between 15 and 17 years old.
The Sheehan and Lyman Hall bands were in second place Monday — they have been among the top five the entire time, including some time at No. 1. Giardina believes the effort to get out the word is the key.
“We spread the word through our band parents’ organization and throughout the schools,” he said. “Word has spread quickly and I think this is why we have been so successful so far.” The competition began Dec. 1, and both band groups have been working since the start to urge people to log onto the site and cast their vote. Supporters have passed out fliers at Stop & Shop on weekends, created a Facebook page and sent emails to family and friends.
“The schools have always been rivals, and while it’s good to have a rivalry, this is a great way to foster the community spirit and work together for a common goal,” said Heidi Belcourt, co-president of the Sheehan Music Parents Association.
Voters can vote up to three times per day until Saturday.