“We are all band kids.”

Greendale offered a bear to the student affected by the accident. The bear is still with her as she recovers.


Greendale, WI – “Marching band is about so much more than what happens between the goal lines on Friday nights and weekends” read the Facebook post of the Greendale HS Band this last September. Only a few days prior, the Oak Creek Marching Knights faced a tragic event. One of their color guard members, Lily, was involved in a pedestrian-automobile accident prior to the start of the school day. Many students witnessed the accident. The student suffered intense injuries.

An “outpouring of support.”

When Greendale students found out about the accident, they immediately wanted to help. Many of the GMB and OCMK students know each other as friends and school neighbors. Tom Reifenberg, Greendale’s director, stated: “When I found out about it, I reached out to [the] Oak Creek directors to make sure it was fine that we showed up…unannounced… Our drum majors already knew about the situation… and had planned on asking me if we could go.” The band took 2 busloads of students to Oak Creek’s rehearsal that evening. The students made signs expressing support, brought gifts to be given to the student, and cheered for the band during rehearsal.

The marching band community is extremely close. Reifenberg expressed that regardless of the uniform, band is one large family. Franklin HS and Tosa East HS were also in attendance that night, showing their love and support for the band. “Our students were extremely touched by the outpouring of support…the evening after Lilly was injured,” Oak Creek band director Amy Fuchs stated. “I don’t think any of us expected so many different people from so many different bands to feel so compelled to show their support in the ways they did.” The students chanted ‘we love your band’, and the Oak Creek kids responded in kind. “It was a great moment of healing and understanding. The empathy between young people and the camaraderie was an amazing thing to see.”   

One leg at a time.

Following the support from Greendale and other local bands, Fuchs recalled a lesson taught by her predecessor and former director. “Remember,” he said, “we all put our pants on the same way: one leg at a time.”  Fuchs stated that the kindness shown by their neighbors reminded them that at the end of the day, we are all band kids. “There were bands that were mentioning us in their on field announcements,” Fuchs said, “presenting us with cards and flowers at shows, and even adding props to their field shows to show their support. The tragedy reminded the students, directors, and parents alike about priorities and humanity.”

A standard of excellence.

Reifenberg stated that back in 2005, they showed similar support following a fatal bus accident of another local school. He said that the Greendale students realized that there are things in life so much more important than what happens on the band field. “We certainly strive for excellence as much as possible,” Reifenberg concluded, “but none of that matters when something life-altering occurs… Giving back and supporting others, even people we have never met, supersedes any of the competitive aspects of marching band.” The students of Greendale represent that “band together” attitude and are fine stewards of the band activity! Greendale Marching Band was a 2017 recipient of the Sudler Shield and will be a participating band in the 2020 Rose Parade. They travel to BOA each year, and Reifenberg thoroughly believes in developing a culture of fun in marching band.


If you know a band or color guard program that extends beyond their program, that represents their band as leaders in the community, and that is a true steward of the activity, we want to highlight them. You can reach out to us via personal message on Facebook (Director’s Showcase) or Twitter (@DShowcase). Help us spread the #bandtogether story.

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