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HS Drumline's Antics Lead to Ban from Student Section

Paul Steinbach

The Emmaus (Penn.) High School marching band has barred its drumline from performing in the student section following a stunt that it pulled during a Nov. 1 away game.

Viral video shows drummer Dino Tyler playing a rhythm on the rims of his four-drum array, then hitting the drum heads, which had been covered with baby powder in a nod to a scene from the film "Drumline." The resulting clouds of powder caused cheerleaders to scream as fellow drummers jumped up and down with delight.

The video was posted by @emmausdrumline and tweeted by popular blog Barstool Sports on Nov. 3. As of Monday night, the video had garnered more than 116,600 views.

As reported by The Morning Call of Allentown, the video only tells part of the story. After the game in question, high school band director Ryan Harrington informed drumline members that couldn’t play for fans in the student section at football games next year, though they could continue to play as members of the band.

The Stinger, Emmaus High School’s student run newspaper, reported that Harrington cited damage to band uniforms and drums as reasons for his decision, as well as the apology the group owed to Freedom High School's athletic director for the powder-covered track.

On Monday, the drumline met with Harrington and was reinstated for next year, said superintendent Kristen Campbell after a school board meeting that night.

Members of the 11-drummer unit said last week they respected the decision of the band director. “It makes us all sad we can’t play next year, but he is the band director and we respect what the decision is,” Tyler, a 16-year-old junior, told The Morning Call.

Dawson Budick, another drumline junior , said the group was grateful that Harrington let the drum line play the student section in the past and that the drummers should have sought his permission for the antic. “We didn’t ask to do it, so that was our own fault,” Budick told The Morning Call. “He let us play and without that, we never would have been able to accomplish anything that we have this year.”

Tyler and Budick said their main goal was to have fun, get students excited and raise spirits at football games. The group, which practices nearly every day, got increasingly creative. During one home game, a drummer played upside down, his legs secured on the shoulders of a bandmate.

Antics steadily amped up following a pep rally in which the drum line got to perform during the event, as opposed to while attendees exited at the end, which had been tradition. Cheerleaders and even football players were interacting with the drum line instead of just passively watching it. That performance was so well-received, it prompted the drummers to seek new crowd-pleasing routines.

The powder gag fit that bill, according to Budick. “It was louder than some of our home games,” he said. “I was amazed because I felt like we finally brought together everybody, including cheerleaders, the student section, football team and marching band. It’s never been like that."

And maybe it won't be like that for the foreseeable future. “The district has recently received feedback from the community regarding how an incident involving the EHS drumline was allegedly handled, according to a student article published in the Emmaus High School Stinger," read a statement released Friday by the East Penn School District. "We are looking into all aspects of the situation."

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