Rex Putnam High School's Kingsmen Thunder Drum Line is up and running again this year and taking the next step to travel to regional competitions on March 12 in California.
Oak Grove students are fundraising to offset their cost of traveling to regional competitions, about $900 a person. With no district funding going to this program, they are only supported by fundraising and grant-writing.
Formed in the late 2000s, Kingsmen Thunder is the only competitive percussion group in North Clackamas School District or surrounding districts. With music programs like this being hit by funding issues, even Portland Public School lacks a competitive drum line now.
Despite the challenges, the program's director René Ormae-Jarmer said Putnam's drum line has grown and is now inspiring other drum lines to form in Oregon. Ormae-Jarmer said her "little drum line that could" is now a growing, popular youth development program that is representing Milwaukie regionally, and soon nationally, in the marching and pageantry arts.
"Students are now auditioning for professional level Drum Corps and marching in Open Class groups," she said.
Winter Guard International is a nonprofit organization that serves as the governing body for the indoor color guard, percussion and winds activities. There were more than 33,000 participants at the regional level last year, and this year's regional competition will take place in Merced, California.
Ormae-Jarmer said the drum line appreciates the community support, and she's working to update the group's website with a long list of Clackamas County businesses that have donated.
"We'd love to get more folks in the community some awareness about who we are, what we do, and that we represent this entire area in the marching/pageantry arts," she said. "(We) compete in this 'Sport of the Arts' and it's just as intensive as any sport, but with percussion and music."
A fundraiser this month is going on at snap-raise.com/v2/fundraisers/rex-putnam-thunder-drum-line-21-22-2021#.
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