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The band is set to perform during a home game against Forest Grove this coming Friday.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The St. Helens High School band observes social distancing during a recent rehearsal.A colorful, spirited high school band is as much a part of prep football Fridays as hot dogs with all the drippy fixings.

On Friday, March 26, the St. Helens High School Band will finally get a chance to perform at a home game.

It has certainly been a journey for Noelle Freshner, who is the band director and activities director.

"In a typical year, we start the year preparing for pep bands and doing football games," Freshner said. "We take a little break, then we come back for the basketball season."

COVID-19 changed all of that.

"This year, we've been doing online band exclusively since September," she said. "We've worked on some of the pep band music earlier in the year just because we typically play that stuff."

Freshner said, "We took a break from it for a little while and decided that we would, kind of, see how the year started to pan out."

About the third week in January, the pep band was eventually able to rehearse after a period of getting re-acquainted with each other.

"We did it out in the stadium, in the grandstands," Freshner recalled. "It was like 40 degrees."

The band has been doing weekly pep rehearsals on Wednesday nights ever since, and it plans on performing at two home football games and two of the women's soccer games.

Freshner is looking forward to the band performing Friday evening at St. Helens High School. There will be COVID-19 precautions observed by the band, of course.

"We have 6-foot distancing. The students have been using masks the entire time," Freshner said. "They actually have been playing using masks. (And) we're very spread out."

The band expects to be playing in a different location at the stadium, according to Freshner. Normally, the band would perform near the student section, close to the 50-yard line. This time around, the band may be situated toward the end of the stadium to prevent people from strolling too close to band members.

There are about 30 members in the St. Helens pep band, but Freshner emphasizes that members are free to stay home from the game, if they wish.

"It will be a smaller band than what people are used to hearing us do, but they're doing an awesome job," she said. "I think they're going to be really happy with what we bring."

It's simply hard to think of a Friday night prep football game without music from the band.

"It's all about bringing excitement and entertainment to the game," Freshner remarked. "Before the game, we play at timeouts, at halftime — anytime that that the ball is not going, we try to keep the energy level up."

And Freshner admits that the school band might want to get on an opponent's nerves a bit. With the goal of distraction, the band may play numbers such as "Another One Bites the Dust" or, perhaps, "That's the Way I Like It."

As for Friday, March 26, St. Helens versus Forest Grove, Freshner said, "We're so excited. We can't wait to get back."

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