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Johnson band to play near Capitol for 9/11 commemoration
Knights group will follow noon prayer vigil
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Johnson High color guard member Baylea Gaddis performs with the marching band Tuesday afternoon during after-school practice. The band will travel to the Georgia State Capitol this Friday to perform at Liberty Plaza following a Sept. 11 prayer vigil at noon.

Johnson band at Capitol for 9/11

When: 12:45 p.m. Friday

Where: Liberty Plaza, Capitol Avenue SW, Atlanta

D.I. Brunson implored his band to pay attention to the details, to take each step with discipline.

As the Johnson High director of bands put it, “here’s your personal invitation to do it right the first time.”

On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon on the school’s campus, the marching band prepared for a major opportunity this Friday. The Knights band will play, but not march, at 12:45 p.m. Friday at Liberty Plaza across from the State Capitol in Atlanta following a Sept. 11 prayer vigil at noon.

The Johnson group’s performance will include the national anthem and its “United: The Sounds of America” show it is playing at Friday football games.

“It’s a good feeling for us because we get to play for our nation,” said Noel Muniz, a sophomore who plays second bass on the drumline.

Brunson said the idea for this trip to Atlanta started when state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, told the band director last year to let Miller know if he would ever like to bring his group to play at the Capitol. Then, Brunson realized Sept. 11 was a Friday with a home football game, and he began to craft a show for the season that would work perfectly for an opportunity like the one this week.

It also served as a chance for Brunson to help his students learn more about the day’s history, since they were too young to fully experience the impact of 9/11 when the attacks occurred in 2001.

“This is about what the country stands for and what we’re trying to promote,” Brunson said. “The unity and patriotism with this very, very diverse, different group of kids has been really impressive to me. They’ve really risen to the challenge and they’ve started taking this to heart.”

The show, which the Johnson band will also play at halftime of Friday night’s home football game against Lumpkin County, includes “America the Beautiful,” part of “Taps,” Metallica’s “And Justice for All,” Jay-Z’s “Made in America” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

While Brunson said the community is always quick to support the military, Sept. 11 and the band’s show serve as reminders to appreciate the important work of public safety workers and those who carry out seemingly ordinary tasks daily.

“Without that unity and without us really working together, we’re not following through with what it really means to be an American,” Brunson said.

Collin Young, a senior who plays mellophone, said it’s been fun preparing for the show and “just watching the band grow as a whole.”

Melissa Hernandez, a senior in the color guard, is in her first year with the band. She said working on the show has been “one of the best times of my life.” Hernandez also noted how being part of the group serves as a helpful release at the end of the school day.

“It’s also really important for us to be able to dedicate a show like this to people who serve and even some people who aren’t even here with us anymore,” Hernandez said. “The people who risk their lives every day for our country, it really helps us build a nice sense of community and to be able to have a nice sense of patriotism with this show.”

Brunson said the band, which includes about 140 students, is “a great group of kids” with strong support from Johnson’s administration.

David Cazares, a junior who plays clarinet, said he and his fellow band members are looking forward to playing at the Capitol for 9/11.

“It means a lot as a band since we haven’t really gotten there in the past,” Cazares said. “It may not seem big to other bands, but to us, it’s a pretty big accomplishment and an honor for us to play there.”

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