After nearly two decades of wear and tear on the football field Hutchinson's High School Band is getting new uniforms. It's an expensive purchase in these tight budget times.
"These were purchased back in 1996," explained band director Daryl Koestel. "A lot of these kids that are in band were not even born then, or they were just babies."
And the uniforms show their age in yellowed linings, torn hems, and frayed edges.
"They were just falling apart," said Koestel. "And there's not a whole lot that you can do when you have several hundred that are falling apart.
Except make the decision to replace one generation's band uniform with the next.
"I went with a drastic change," Koestel said, explaining the new design. "I went with a lot of black in the uniform, for lots of reasons. Number one, it's easier to keep clean. The band looks cleaner when they're out there. It makes them stand up taller."
Koestel even got his students involved in the design process.
"I presented them some designs and they all voted," he said. "And the one that I liked the best is the one they liked. And it's the design that we ended up going with."
But it took a little help from the district to manage the $87,656.50 purchase.
"Even in these tough budget times, we have to plan for that," said Dr. Shelly Kiblinger, Superintendent of Hutchinson Schools. "We try to make things last as long as we can. But, in the case of our band uniforms, they were to the point where they couldn't be repaired anymore."
After a couple of years of setting money aside, the district was able to say, 'Yes,' when the band asked for the new uniforms.
"I'm just grateful for my district supporting the band program and supporting the kids," said Koestel. "Because that's what it's about. And the kids are going to feel great wearing the new uniforms."
Buying the new uniforms does create one problem for the band. It now has to figure out where to store all the old uniforms, until they can be auctioned off. Meanwhile, the new uniforms will be ready for the 2013 fall marching season.