On Sept. 7, Benjamin Banneker High School in Union City, Georgia, was awarded $10,000 from the Witherite Law Group for their second annual Great Atlanta Band Challenge. In a historic move, they also awarded $2500 each to the other 7 schools in the top ten for a total of $47,500.
During the presentation of the check, the marching band performed a repertoire of songs in front of the crowd, and the radio station 97.5 Atlanta was present as well for the award.
Emanuel Johnson, Benjamin Banneker’s band director, and Adewale Odetunde, an attorney for the Witherite Law Group, spoke with rolling out about the high school being awarded.
How does it feel to be rewarded for your and your band’s hard work?
Emanuel Johnson: I feel like this is an amazing win for Benjamin Banneker’s marching band. We’re going to use this money to do a few different things, as far as more exposure for our students, get them out of College Park so they can travel, and continue to give them opportunities that are going to make them college and career ready.
We started the contest dead last. We had zero votes, while everybody else had thousands. We rallied our community, our band program, and our school community. Our principal allowed me to get on the intercom every morning and give a shout-out to the school and try to garner some opportunities to get some votes for our students.
Why did you want to continue the Great Atlanta Band Challenge?
Adewale Odetunde: What we want to do is to meet the needs of the communities that we’re in, and the big marching band programs across the state and the country. For us to be able to do this with Benjamin Banneker High School and for us to give back and know that the kids are going to appreciate it is going to be huge for them.
What makes your school the best marching band in Georgia?
Odetunde: The fact that we have so many young musicians, most of our students come from not knowing how to play instruments or having very little experience. I’m proud to say that we have first, second, and instrumentalists that are turning out this great. That’s a testament to their hard work and testament to their parents. Dedication to getting their kids here every morning for band camp, picking them up every evening, making sure that their band dues are paid, and making sure they have their physicals.
I want to give a big shoutout to our band parents and our band community for rallying behind these kids and making sure they have what they need. I also want to shout out to the kids who are playing in the band, and our auxiliary flag and dance team for putting in their time and work to make Benjamin Banneker High School look great look and phenomenal.