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Lion Nation welcomes bands and families to campus

By Sarah Hess
On September 12, 2017

Members of the Southland Band practiced  their routine Saturday morning for the halftime performance. Sarah Hess/The Lion’s Roar

The university had its first home football game of the 2017 football season, which was packed full of activities. Some of them included Family Day at tailgating, Band Day and Roomie’s Reveal. 

Family Day happens at one game every season where the Division of Student Affairs Leadership Ambassadors offer an exclusive Family Day Tailgate Party that includes admission to the party and football game as well as food and entertainment. The event offered fun for the whole family including inflatable slides and game stations for children. Family Day also offers those interested in attending the university a chance to experience campus life. Ponchatoula High School sophomore Meagan O’Malley discussed what she thought of her first taste of college life.

 “I loved the game and halftime,” said O’Malley.  “I really enjoyed my day.”

Band Day is a university tradition that coincided with Family Day this year. The “Spirit of the Southland” Marching Band facilitates Band Day. This day gives high school students from all over a chance to perform in the football halftime show. This year around 130 band members and 75 dancers from 17 high schools participated in Band Day. 

“It’s an event that a lot of the students in the area have looked forward to every single year,” said Interim Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands Derek Stoughton. “The feedback that we get back every time is that the high school students and their directors have an absolute blast while they are here.”

Ponchatoula High School was one of the schools to participate in Band Day. Ponchatoula’s Band Director James Square explains why Band Day was beneficial for his students.

“It was a different experience from what we do on a high school level,” said Square.  “Learning one performance and then performing in a college atmosphere.” 

“Spirit of the Southland” band member and freshman art major Lilian Godoy thinks highly of the university’s Band Day. She attended Band Day as an Alfred Bonnabel High School student and was interested in attending the university because of the experience.

“I honestly think that it’s a fun experience for high school students, and it’s also fun for us in a way because it’s like we’re showing the new generation,” said Godoy. 

The halftime show had a Disney theme. Stoughton states that the theme for this halftime show was a suggestion made by students last year themes from student suggestions. Three songs from popular Disney movies were chosen to be performed at the first home game.

“Obviously, Southeastern is all about the lions, so we thought ‘Be Prepared’ ’cause we can strike fear into our enemies,” said Stoughton. “You know, ‘Be prepared, enemies, for what the lions are going to do to you.’ So, we thought that would be kind of cool. And of course, with the popularity of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Moana’ that have completely taken over pop culture right now, we thought that that would be a great set of tunes to not only capture the interest of our audiences but also to capture the interest of all of our guests.”

“Spirit of the Southland” Marching Band spent Saturday combining the high school students into the halftime performance. Though complex, the point of the performance was for the visiting high school performers to have a good time. 

“The students really stepped up and did a terrific job,” said Stoughton. “I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and that’s not the point of this. The point of it is for those students to have fun here and really enjoy being a part of a college band.” 

Stoughton gave his thoughts on how the halftime performance went. 

“I think it was great,” said Stoughton. “I think the response from the crowd was very positive. I think that the dance team did a terrific job as well. Paige Hall does a fantastic job with them, and from what I saw from the sideline, it went very well. I was very, very impressed and very pleased.” 

This year’s Band Day and Family Day being done the same day offers many people outside of the lion community a chance to experience the university. 

“I think that it ended up working out really well to have both Band Day and Family Day happening at the same time,” said Stoughton. “I think anything that we can do to bring more people to our campus at the same time and show as many people outside of the Southeastern family what great things are going on here, that’s always a positive thing.” 

The next halftime show done by the “Spirit of the Southland” Marching Band will be during the next home game Sept. 23 and will be a “Sharknado” show. Stoughton even had a chance to talk with the band that wrote the main theme for Sharknado. He believes the performance will be silly and fun and hopes that the audience enjoys it as much as the movie. 

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