MANCHESTER, NH — There were smiles everywhere in Central High School’s music department Wednesday after a FedEx truck delivered 16 boxes filled with the band’s new black-green-and-white uniforms.
It’s been nearly 25 years since new uniforms were purchased. And, back then, it was an anonymous donor who paid for them.
Since then, the mostly white uniforms are a dingy yellow and cuffs on a few of them are held together with duct tape. One uniform has safety pins to keep a shoulder flap in place. Sometimes, one pant leg or sleeve is longer than the other; some are too short; others too long, and some uniforms are just too big.
Maxwell Lalos, a junior who is the band’s drum major, was the first to don a new replacement uniform. He proudly modeled the black-green-and-white band uniform, topped off with a black hat, trimmed with a silver chain and a white feather.
Only a few students were on hand for the uniforms’ arrival because mid-terms are this week. Those that helped unload the boxes “were excited,” Lalos said. “There’s a video of the kids freaking out.”
He said band members “worked really hard for what we got and I think they’re great.”
The previous uniform, he said, “used to be white but now it’s tinted yellow. It was exhausting to put them on. They’re extremely hot.”
Twenty-five years ago, his father was also the drum major and one of the first to proudly wear the uniform. Lalos laughed at the thought that he could have been wearing the same uniform for the past 2½ years that his father once wore.
Lalos has been a band member since he was in grammar school at Weston Elementary School, where Ed Doyle taught him the trombone. Doyle is a music teacher and also Central’s band director for the past two years. He’s been with the school district for 18 years.
Doyle said the Manchester Board of School Committee budgeted $70,000 for the purchase of the uniforms. They bought 185 at a cost of $378 each. He remembered when school board members were discussing what would be spent and one member pointed out that a high school football helmet costs $350.
During that discussion, a parent told members that as a comparison Londonderry paid $700 per uniform.