Newton High band needs $6,000 to play Sugar Bowl

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

COVINGTON -- The Newton High School band is getting ready for the biggest performance in its existence, but it needs a little help to get there.

About 45 members of Newton High School's Sound Factory band, under the direction of Jason Smith, will head to New Orleans to perform at the 2011 Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 in the Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints.

"This is not only a major step for the band program and the school but for the community as well," said Smith. "This is the first time the band will be on an international stage performing live for over 70,000 fans."

The band, which applied through the Bowl Games of America organization and selected the Sugar Bowl to play, is scheduled to perform a four-minute medley at half time as part of a mass band performance with nearly 20 other bands from around the country. The NHS band also will have some standalone performances in the historic French Quarter and at a gazebo on the Mississippi River while in New Orleans.

"This gives our kids a greater sense of pride," Smith said. "They will now be able to say that they have played at a major BCS bowl game."

The band needs the community's support to be able to travel to the event.

So far, the group has raised about $25,000 through out-of-pocket money and fundraisers to cover transportation, meals and incidentals. However, it stills needs at least $6,000 to make the trip.

"We have done everything ranging from car washes, doughnut sales, fruit sales, Honey Baked Ham gift certificates, bagging groceries for tips, candle sales, selling Atlanta Falcons and Hawks tickets and the list goes on and on," Smith said. "With money being so tight these days, it's hard to get people to donate, even if it's for a great cause."

In addition to collecting donations, the band is holding an ongoing bed sheet fundraiser and continuing its Honey Baked Ham fundraiser until next week. This week, it will complete sales of $10 discount cards that offer coupons and discounts to area businesses until February 2012.

More information about fundraisers is available on its website, www.newtoncountyschools.org/newtonhigh/band.htm. Checks can be made payable to Newton High School Band.

The band must collect the funds by Dec. 15.

"We need all the help we can get. Our aim is $6,000, but no amount is too small," said Smith. "We appreciate all support thus far. The students have worked really hard and would be heartbroken if we would have to cancel this performance because of finances."