The Student News Site of Stratford Academy

Stratford Gazebo

The Student News Site of Stratford Academy

Stratford Gazebo

The Student News Site of Stratford Academy

Stratford Gazebo


Four members of the Gazebo staff write about life in the band, as a member of the color guard, a JV cheerleader and a football manager.

The good times march on

By ZUNA SHABBIR, Gazebo Staff Writer

Being in the Spirit of Stratford marching band for the past three years has been one of the defining parts of my middle and high school experience.

Zuna Shabbir

Band has taught me about friendship, the power of music, team spirit, and patience. (You learn a thing or two after you have to stand still at attention for what seems like forever.)

Here are some memories and recollections from my years in band:

I’m in seventh grade. It’s my first year as a band member, and we’re about to perform in front of a huge crowd at the first football game of the season.

I swallow and try to breathe slowly to calm down, while making sure I don’t forget to hold my clarinet right. I’m also trying to remember not to over-march or undermarch my steps, to take the perfect size rolling step. Our drum major, Holly Bean, calls us to attention, and we’re off. Six exhilarating minutes later, it’s over.

Fast-forward one year. I’m now an experienced marcher, and we’re at marching competition. Everything we’ve done in band so far has led up to this moment. The judges call us up, we march the show, and we go back to the stands to wait for them to announce our score. The moment before our final score is announced is nerve-wracking and stressful.

Then we hear our results. We have won the sweepstakes with our nearly perfect score. Our band is happy enough as it is, and then Ms. Laura Voss announces that because we won, we’re going to Disney World! That memory, filled with laughter and hugs from friends, is one of my happiest.

A lot of my band memories are good ones, but for me, the best ones happen when we’re all in the stands at a football game. The band is playing cheers, my friends are beside me, and we’re yelling at the top of our lungs for our team. The thrill and all the liveliness of those games are what makes band worth all the work we put in every year.

Cheering on our team at football games, getting to learn and listen to music, and getting to make new friends every year has made band a very special part of my time at Stratford. Though it takes a lot of time and effort, in the end, being a part of the Spirit of Stratford band has been a blur of good memories and learning experiences, and truly rewarding.

Zuna Shabbir is a sophomore on the Gazebo staff.

Color guard colors my world

By KENZIE MUENZER, Gazebo Staff Writer

A plethora of butterflies filled my gut as I heard the words, “We are ready to go.”

I have done dance recitals, theatre performances and many other shows,  but this took the cake.

Kenzie Muenzer

I filled my arms with six flags and one blade, a chunky piece of plastic someone decided would be perfect to toss and catch. When Zainab Siddiqui, senior, said the words “guard, set!” we all rushed onto the field like children running into a candy store.

We plastered smiles onto our faces as we stood at attention, and we got into the 1940s personna we were meant to portray.

It was at this precise moment I felt truly alive. There is a quote from the book “Perks of Being A Wallflower” that goes like this: “and in that moment I swear we were infinite.”

That is how I felt. I didn’t hear the sound of my heart in my ears, I just heard the silk of my flag popping as I flipped it and twirled every which way.

When we marched off of the field, I couldn’t ignore the flood of joy that filled me. I jumped and twirled even more than I did on the field. It was probably inappropriate for me to have done that, but I couldn’t help it.

This is something I have wanted to do since the seventh grade. This was my family at Stratford. This was my home.

I’m not joking that this band is a family either. They actually have a family tree. We are assigned on the last day of band camp our Color Guard moms. I distinctly remember the moment I found out mine.

We had been told to sit in a circle. The potential ‘mothers’ surrounded our circle. They had little gift bags in their hands. I had been hoping and praying for my “mom” to be Kaylee Jellum, junior. We were already really close and we spent a lot of time together at camp.

Ms. Sylvia Haynie, the color guard director, called for Kaylee to go to her “child” first. I was really nervous when Kaylee started to walk away from me, for drama, but I was quickly reassured when she came back. I jumped up and hugged her so hard that we both fell to the floor. That is a memory I will never forget.

There were different goodies in the bag, including the traditional Coke and Skittles. I don’t know exactly where the tradition was started, but I was extremely thankful for it once band camp was over, and I was dying of heat exhaustion.

Another fond memory was my first bus trip.

I was new to this whole thing. I didn’t know where to sit. I didn’t know the customs. I quickly learned that it basically was a free-for-all. Kelvin Jones, the band bus driver and former baritone player, just made it crazier. The thing is, I didn’t know about him, and when I asked, I was greeted with gasps. With my “mother” in the seat behind me and my best friend next to me, I was ready for the first away football game at Landmark Christian Academy.

Or so I thought.

It rained. This was yet another learning experience. As we continued to march the show, the flags grew more difficult to manipulate. I dropped my blade, and although this was quite a solemn experience for me, I continued to march on with a toothy grin.

I know that this “family” will never stop looking out for me. This isn’t just an school activity. This is a creative outlet. It is a place for memories to be made and fun to be had. This program is truly outstanding. I am happy to put every fiber of my being into this show.

Don’t forget to come watch our show at any home, or away game if you are feeling really ecstatic.

Kenzie Muenzer is a sophomore on the Gazebo staff.

Cheering on the Eagles

Hadley Neal

I took a deep breath as my captains, Josie Coleman and Holland Schell, yelled “Ready?” The whole squad turned to the right, and now we were facing the crowd. I exhaled because they had called a cheer that I knew well. All the nerves were gone and I could not wipe the smile off of my face.

This is my first year as a JV cheerleader here at Stratford, and so far it’s been nothing but fun.

Tryouts to become a cheerleader were last March, and the judges were two Mercer University cheerleaders. Each girl performed a choreographed dance, to the song “Boogie Shoes.” We also performed two cheers and jumps as well. This is not the only factor, though. Teachers also give evaluations on each prospective cheerleader.

When I saw my name on the roster, tears filled my eyes. I was so genuinely happy. I couldn’t wait for the first practice and all the cheerleader experiences to come.

Both JV and Varsity squads survived cheer camp and came back to Macon victoriously with the “Big Banana.” It was a bonding experience, and although we were exhausted, we still managed to have fun and share some jokes (Shakeem has a special place in all of our hearts.)

While at  camp in Athens, the squad learned multiple dances and cheers, and we practiced stunts as well. I am the back spot to my stunt group, which includes Anna Durso (the flyer), Ellen Adams (base), and Karen Jarrard (base). My job is to give Anna more support, relieve Karen and Ellen of extra weight, and count our stunts so each member of the group knows what to do and when.

Our usual practice consists of a run-through of all the cheers on the list our Coach, Mrs. Elizabeth Avant, has provided us with. Then we practice our “Extreme” routine that we learned at UCA camp. This is the dance that we will do along with the Varsity squad at the pep rally on Sept. 23.

Overall, I am so happy and grateful to have made the squad. We have all become closer, and we have worked hard together to achieve perfection and cheer on the Eagles.

If I can’t play, I can manage

It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to play football. At the end of eighth grade Coach Mark Farriba came back to Stratford from Prince Avenue in Athens, and I thought I was finally going to get my chance to play in ninth grade.

Maggie Thornsberry

The first time I saw him was in middle school P.E. and I ran up to him so excited and told him my name and that I wanted to play football. He told me “no” at first, but I was persistent and did not give up that easily.

I asked him time and time again. I told him many more times how much I really wanted to play football before he told me I had to get my parents’ consent and he would let me play. Even though my parents knew how much I wanted to play, my dad said “no” because it wasn’t “safe” for a girl.

I went back to tell Coach Farriba what my dad had said, and he told me I could be the manager instead. At this point in time I loved everything about football and loved the idea of being around it, so I said yes. I started that year with spring practice along with two boy manager’s, Austin Howe and Cody Ferguson, and continued throughout the whole season.

To start the season we were all rookies and didn’t know how to do anything. We learned what Coach Farriba liked as we went along and adjusted to his yelling at the players and sometimes even us. I developed a bond with Austin and Cody despite fighting over who was going to put up the water coolers, who was going to drive the golf cart, and who would have to sit in the back.

I went to all the games on the bus and sometimes worried about who to sit with since I was a freshman, and I did not have any other girls on the bus with me. But I made it through the first year and agreed to come back for another. We made it to the state championship. I was the only girl on the team, but I learned a lot from managing and traveling with the team and continued managing through all of high school.

The next year I was a sophomore and was a little more experienced. With Cody and Austin by my side and our newest addition, Spencer Williams, we were ready to take on the year. Cody and I did water at the games, and Spencer and Austin were the ball boys. Although I thought Cody, Austin, and I would be on top of things at practice, since we had managed the previous year, Spencer beat us out and the coaches seemed to like him best. He was Coach Dickey’s “coach pet.”

He tried to beat us out in everything we did which was lucky for us because we never had to do anything, but the coaches noticed this. They sometimes yelled at us for sitting down and not doing anything. But in our defense, Spencer took over all the work. This led Cody to quit in the middle of the season. At games, I had to take over two water carriers, and Austin had to do water along with carrying the kicking tee, while Spencer was stuck being ball boy.

At the end of this year I realized I was going to lose my fellow managers and would have to get new people to work with the following year. As much as we fought, I knew I was going to miss Austin, Spencer, and Cody (even though he was technically already gone.)

Coming back my junior year, I made one of my best friends, Valentine Grinstead, start managing with me. I was no longer the only girl. There were also two other new managers,

Preston Kennedy and Cole McDaniel. Since I was the only returning manager, Coach Farriba appointed me head manager. I was honestly not too excited about it because I would have to teach Valentine, Preston, and Cole everything and do more work than I had before, which was not really how I rolled.

Valentine and I did not get along with Preston and Cole as I had planned. I was definitely missing Cody and Austin by day two of working with them. Eventually practice started interfering with my cheerleading, and I had to stop going to practice to work on my tumbling. I stopped going to practices and for the remainder of the year only went to the games.

At the games I did water, as usual. I was QT’s “personal water girl” and had fun traveling to all the games with the team that year. I enjoyed the games more, and with Valentine that year was more fun all together.

Going into my senior year, Valentine and Preston did not come back, and Cole decided he was going to play football. So from the beginning, it looked like I was going to be alone. Luckily, Cole decided he did not want to play, so he was back managing with me at the end of summer. Even though I had him helping me out now, there were only two of us, and it was still harder than any of the previous years. With my lazy personality, it was a struggle on the days Cole did not show up and I had to do all the work. My idea of practice had come to sitting in the shade with my shoes off, squirting a water bottle in my mouth when I got too hot, and coming to the coaches’ call when they had a task they thought was easy enough for me to do.

For the games this year, Cole and I have done water. We have two seventh-graders to be the ball boys. Our team of four on game days was pretty solid because we made the seventh-grade boys do most of the work with putting everything away at the end of the game. They had a lot of energy and were eager to help, so they surely did not mind it.

Over my four years of managing, I may have messed up, gotten yelled at, and have come off a little lazy, but I try my hardest and do everything I can for Coach Farriba. I have loved traveling with the team and all the things I have gotten to experience through being a manager.

And even though I’m not playing football, I still hope that for one game Coach Farriba will let me dress out, run through the banner, and go on the field just one time, and finally fulfill my lifelong dream of being a football player.

Maggie Thornsberry is a senior on the Gazebo staff.

More to Discover
Activate Search