A year has passed since the marching arts was thrust into a rediscovery of their identity surrounding the subject of student safety. As educators, we hope that what surfaced last summer wasn’t the result of actions committed by our friends, our colleagues, our mentors. And the truth of that matter is that all sports, activities, and schools want a richer student experience to be at the apex of their decision-making. A vast majority of that experience is safety.
As the marching arts industry continues to develop, revise, and reinforce standards of conduct for student safety and educate educators on best practices, it is important to remember the significant impact we all have on all facets of this activity. From administrators, to teachers, to designers, to volunteers, to junior leaders, we are all dedicated to creating a student experience that fosters positivity and engages students in the most meaningful way possible.
2019 welcomes a new era of much anticipated initiative focused on heightening the ultimate student experience. In January of the new year, DCI held its annual meeting surrounding a theme of student health, wellness, and safety throughout the DCI community. Drum corps directors across the board, more than 350 leaders, attended the meeting to engage in learning and discussion on the health, wellness, and safety of every aspect of each activity under the DCI umbrella in preparing for the 2019 competitive tour.
The most prominent of these changes surrounds the new partnership between DCI, WGI, Music for All, Varsity Athletic Band and the NFHS. With this partnership comes access to thorough training, certifications, and courses designed to teach and reinforce awareness and safety standards. The training involves the participation of all staff and participating corps and range in topics from general health and wellness to maltreatment of student participants.
Recently, the NFHS and Varsity University have collaborated on and offered two courses to the marching community. These include a Band Safety Course and a Copyright and Compliance Course, both free and accessible to the public. DCI, WGI, and MFA have all validated and endorsed the Band Safety Course. These courses cover topics discussed in detail later, but range from weather precautions, to proper nutrition, to Fair Use and Public Domain; all topics that are time-sensitive and relevant to band directors, technician staff, and designers alike. These two courses are just a couple of the hundreds of elective courses offered by the NFHS and a small portion of a larger band-specific safety and compliance course offered at Varsity University.
For 100 years, the NFHS has developed education-based content with the purpose of making students successful in their lives nationwide. They set “direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities.” As the national source for interscholastic coach training and more, the NFHS puts the safety and well being of students at the helm of their mission to provide the best possible experiences.
Similarly, Varsity University, an extension of the Varsity enterprise, has a mission of “enhancing the student experience.” Through comprehensive, student-centered education geared toward empowering coaches, schools, and students, Varsity University strives to be the leader in leader education worldwide.
Throughout the summer, DSI will be breaking down the details, best practices, and implementations of the NFHS course content. We will speak with organizations regarding their contributions in the creation of these courses and what value they see added to our activity through these endorsed courses. Additionally, we will spotlight how drum corps are autonomously implementing the standards outlined in the courses.
When it comes to our members and the future of our activity, the conversation of student safety is never finished. There is always more we can do to create an environment in which students are free to succeed and flourish.
Danielle Lavrenz lives for pageantry and the marching arts. Passionate about colorguard, she has marched since she was in 7th grade. She marched with the Morton High School band program for a total of 6 years, including 3 years in their circuit-level winterguard. She was a 4 year camper at the Music for All Summer Symposium and marched in the 2009 Bands of America Tournament of Roses Parade Honor Band. She went on to attend Murray State University, where she studied English Education, was an active member in the MSU Racer Band, and was devoted to her sisters in the Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity. She marched with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps in 2010, 2011, and 2014 as well, earning a bronze and gold metal during her tenure. She has teched, choreographed, and directed for Marshall County High School, Calloway County High School, Bethel University, Morton High School, Waukesha North High School, and Greendale High School. Geier is a member of the DSI Marketing Team and currently resides in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she teaches at Greendale High School. She is also a staff member at the Music For All Summer Symposium.