West Carteret High School junior Kenan Storey rehearses Monday during the school’s band camp. The band is preparing for the Grand Nationals Marching Band Championship to be held in November in Indianapolis, Ind., and is holding fundraisers to offset the cost of the trip. (Cheryl Burke photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Instruments up, sweat pouring…160 West Carteret High School students are braving the heat this week for their annual band camp.

While it’s a grueling week of marching and rehearsing from morning to night, students who reported Monday said it’s worth it, especially since they are preparing to compete in the Grand Nationals Marching Band Championship in November in Indianapolis, Ind.

Senior baritone player Jacob Helm said getting to compete in a national competition this year is especially sweet since Hurricane Florence took out most of the band’s competition season last year.

“The hurricane really slowed us down on progress and we lost the performance season,” Jacob said. “For a long time we didn’t get to come to school and walk in every day and do what we do. That really hurt.”

Senior flute player Summer Carlton said she looks forward to band camp, even though it’s hard work.

“I love it. Even though it’s hot, it’s definitely worth it,” Summer said. “The first time you step out on the field for a new season, there’s just nothing like it.”

To help students pay for their trip to nationals, band boosters are holding fundraisers to offset the cost, which is estimated at $140,000.

The main event, BBQ and Blue Jeans, will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. It will feature live music by local Country Music Association Recording Artist Bryan Meyer. The dinner will be catered by Fat Fellas BBQ & Grille of Newport.

Tickets are $25 in advance.  Besides the music and food, there will be a cash bar, silent auction and a drawing for a custom golf cart made by Kalt Life Golf Carts. All of the proceeds will benefit the WCHS band.

To purchase a BBQ and Blue Jeans event ticket or a golf cart raffle ticket, visit or ask a WCHS booster.

Band students are also selling WCHS band discount cards, which provide discounts at local businesses.

Band booster parent Melanie Kraft said the trip will allow band members to visit another state and compete alongside the best bands in the country. The trip cost will include four days of bus transportation, hotels, food, sightseeing activities and competition fees for all students.

Band parent Jennifer Howard said parents, as well as students, are excited about making the trip to grand nationals.

“I’m very excited. I’ve never been to Indianapolis before,” Ms. Howard said as she prepared cups filled with Gatorade for thirsty students Monday.

Ms. Howard, whose daughter is a senior in the color guard, said she has helped out with band camp for four years.

“It’s hard work, that’s for sure,” she said. “It’s all worth it when it all comes together at the end and you get to see their happy faces at a performance.”

Band Director Andy Wright said the title of the band’s show is Cirque Nouveau, based on a French circus.

“There will be props that move around on the field that we’ve had professionally made,” Mr. Wright said, adding that he was excited about the new season, as well as the trip to Indianapolis.

“The last time we went was in 2007. There are over 100 bands from across the United States that attend, and the top 12 get to perform their programs the final night,” Mr. Wright said.

The other county high schools also hold band camps each year. East Carteret High School held a camp in July and Croatan High School is holding its camp this week.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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