• Long Beach Breeze

Long Beach High band leaders trumpet a new season

Mickey Mangum loves to sing the praises of the Long Beach High band, and the longtime band leader has good reason to showcase this talented bunch of Bearcats.

The 125-member Long Beach High Marching Band shines from one year to the next, and Mangum says the 2020 band is another outstanding group.

The 2020 edition includes drum majors Abbie Drake and Tiffany Nguyen. The band’s staff consists of Mangum, assistant directors Zac Cannon and Adrienne Cocco, and color guard instructor Chancey Parker.

Band camp began July 20, and Long Beach students are working on songs for a fall tribute to active and retired military in the Gulf Coast community.

It is titled “Together as One,” and the Long Beach Marching Band will perform the show at every home Bearcats football game at Lumpkin stadium. The South’s typical summer heat wave hasn’t slowed the students’ progress on practice fields.

Mangum says he is proud of the band’s rich history and tremendous performances over the years. He keeps up with Long Beach High grads who go on to excel in college bands. Plenty of Long Beach band grads receive scholarships to attend colleges in the region and around the nation, he said.

The Bearcats will look a little different as they belt out the high notes on football fields and other venues in 2020-21.

“The band is proud to display its brand new uniforms purchased by the Long Beach School District” at the end of the 2019 marching season, Mangum said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed practice procedures for the Maroon & White musicians this summer. At band camp, the students showed up to rehearse in small groups for only a few hours each day in an effort to reduce crowd size and practice social distancing.

“The students were kept at a six-foot distance, and the players had to learn how to perform on their wind instruments while still using a mask,” Mangum said.

At rehearsals, the Long Beach students placed cloth coverings over the bell of their instruments, to follow policies of the MHSAA and national organizations to promote safety.

Last year, the Long Beach students finished in fifth place in the MHSAA State Marching Band championship in November 2019. Students at the 5A school on the Mississippi Gulf Coast appeared as the featured performing ensemble at the William Carey University Honor Band Clinic.

“The band and its staff are very excited about the plans for 2020,” Mangum said.

Band booster leaders like Jeanne Whelan are going all out to publish the Bearcats fall football program, with Whelan serving as the program chair.

The 37-page Long Beach football program will be printed the first week in September.

“The band kids sell it, put it together and sell it at the stadium,” Whelan said. The program money generated helps buy instruments and equipment, as well as pay for the students to travel to band competitions.

Ads are available for purchase for students, parents and businesses who wish to support Long Beach High School, Whelan says she will finish selling program ads through late August.

For more information, contact Whelan at LBHSbandboosters@gmail.com.

By Andy Kanengiser

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