Senior Year Struggles


Senior CeCe Collinson smiles at the camera while sitting in the stands with the rest of the marching band.

The bell rings, ending seventh period, but senior CeCe Collinson’s hectic day has just begun. The marching band hurries to stand on the football field, Collinson among them, preparing to blast music towards empty bleachers. The band members move in a complicated pattern, mysterious and unknown to the onlooker. This is no extraordinary concept to Collinson, however. This is a normal Tuesday.

Collinson is the marching band saxophone section leader. She has to find a way to divide her time between ultimate frisbee, marching band, and soccer practices. Practices aren’t the only thing she has to balance, though. Collinson must also find a balance between giving instruction to her peers and being supportive of them.

“It was a little weird to have authority over my friends,” Collinson said. “Then I realized you can find a nice balance of being in charge and being a friend.”

Collinson was section leader last year, a position normally held by twelfth graders. She has played alto saxophone since 4th grade and has sacrificed hours of after school practices to participate in the school’s marching band: an hour and a half after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Wednesday nights from 6 to 9, as well as home football games on Fridays.

“She helps keep the spirits up within the section, so section leader is a lot of responsibility,” said freshman Kimi Reed, one of only two freshmen playing alto saxophone in marching band.

When asked how she deals with the extremely busy schedule of marching band practices and competitions, Collinson responded that it is something you have to get used to and you have to learn to manage your time wisely.

I have to frontload my work to make sure it’s done and just really time manage,” Collinson said. “I also do soccer, so I can’t go to practice because of band, but I try to be there as much as I can.”

Despite the time commitment, Collinson still manages to stay on top of homework and participate in activities after school.

“It’s just time management,” Collinson said. “Recognizing that you’re gonna be at band for a while and planning out your week so that you get as much as you can done, and if that means taking it on the bus to competitions, that’s what you gotta do.”

Being involved in extracurricular activities allows Collinson to take a break from schoolwork. Being part of a team has helped her to make friends, as well.

“It’s also taught me that I can handle doing different things and I can handle responsibility,” Collinson said.

Collinson said it’s good to be part of a community like marching band. As a section leader she is put in a position with responsibilities and has the opportunity to learn from her peers and directors.

“I’ve learned that it’s really good to be part of a team or a club,” Collinson said. “Band camp you’re at school marching for three weeks before school starts, so freshman year kind of knowing where the school was, knowing people… was really nice because you don’t feel quite so confused.”

In preparation for the marching band season, members attend band camp starting in mid-August. During that time, freshmen get to know the layout of the school.

“We at least know how to get to the cafeteria and the band room,” Reed said.

Marching band has not been without challenges. Coming up with a weekly schedule can be difficult, especially with the stress of school as well. Collinson is able to handle it, however. The experience has taught her how to take instruction and she is always learning new skills and life lessons.

“[Marching band has] taught me you’ve gotta work hard to get what you want,” Collinson said.

Marching band percussionist junior Lee Smith has known Collinson since age five. The two friends both play ultimate frisbee for the school.

“Ultimate frisbee and marching band is the perfect sport-activity duo of Washington-Lee,” Smith said.

Since so many people do both activities, they are able to work together and figure out which practices to attend and how to get from one place to another. Director of Bands Mr. Alex Robinson has a strict attendance policy for marching band members, so those who participate in multiple activities must often sacrifice the others for marching band.

As both a section leader and member of marching band, Collinson gets to know a lot of new people across all four grade levels.

“It kind of forces me to get to know everybody in my section, regardless of if they’re in my grade, which is really nice because they’re all just wonderful people,” Collinson said. “It’s nice that I get to be friends with them.”