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Huntington H.S. Marching Band raises $80K, makes history

Published: Jun. 29, 2015 at 7:31 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 5, 2017 at 2:07 AM CST
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SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Last April, the Huntington "Raider JukeBox" Marching band earned a prestigious invitation to represent the State of Louisiana in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington D.C.

However, in order to accept the invitation, Huntington needed to raise $80,000. With just a week to spare before the Parade on Constitution Avenue, the "Raider Jukebox" learned they had raised enough money to make the trip.

"I know I'm happy now but some months ago I was worried," said Huntington band director Roderick Jefferson.

Jefferson admits he was so nervous about raising $80K that he spoke to Huntington principal Travis Smith about planning an alternative trip if they came up short.

"Mr. Smith was adamant that we would raise the money which made me confident we would reach our goal," said Jefferson.

The "Raider Jukebox" learned of their invite to Washington D.C. in April but didn't start fundraising until October. Jefferson says they did everything to help raise money.

They did a drum line/battle of the band in April which was a success, held barbecues, chicken dinners and other various performances to raise money.

"The most money came via donations from our community," said Jefferson.

The Huntington band was performing at Steeple Hill Baptist Church when they realized that Steeple Hill's donation of $500, their third donation, would put them over the $80,000 mark.

"Caddo Commission donated $5,000 and other various companies and individuals donated so the community is what helped us raise the majority of money," he said.

The band never rested or stopped practicing while attempting to raise their set goal.

"We practiced 2-3 times per week and we were also performing to raise funds," said Jefferson.

Since school let out in late May, the Huntington band has held four performances to help raise money.

Jefferson took the Band Director job at Huntington in 2011. He's a former student conductor and standout band member at Grambling State University. He's excited about going to Washington D.C. but he's most excited for the 85 members of the Huntington "Raider Jukebox."

"I told them most college band members have never had the chance to play in Washington D.C.," said Jefferson. "You're in an elite group that will march for the president and this is the first time Huntington has ever done this."

It's the first time any band from Shreveport-Bossier City, has had the opportunity to march in the National Independence Day Parade. Huntington will be the only representative for the State of Louisiana.

"To be the only band from the state really tells about the caliber of kids we have here at Huntington," said Jefferson.

Initially, Huntington's 85 band members and its Director had no clue who nominated them to represent the State of Louisiana in our nation's capital.

"We had heard it was someone in Baton Rouge. but that was it," said Jefferson. "We found out that Governor Bobby Jindal nominated us after watching us on the TV show Bayou Billionaires."

Jefferson says when they marched in the "Holiday in Dixie" parade in 2013, they were filmed by the TV show Bayou Billionaires. Shortly after he gave permission to the Country Music Channel to use footage of the Huntington Band, Governor Jindal saw their talent.

"Jindal saw us on the show and then went to YouTube and watched various clips of the band performing and the rest is history," said Jefferson.

Jefferson says the band put in countless hours of hard work and practice. He's happy that dedication has paid off.

"I always say the people that work the hardest are blessed and now my students finally see that those words are true," said Jefferson.

108 band members and administrators in total will make the trip to Washington D.C. The "Raider Jukebox" will hit the road Wednesday at midnight in order to make it to the parade on time.

The National Independence Day Parade is July 4 on historic Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.

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