KIMBERLY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Schools lost a lot of their traditional identity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A big part of Kimberly's football program is its pep band, which couldn't perform at games for some time.
But the drum majors are looking to rejuvenate the student experience ahead of game day.
High school bands help set the tone both on and off the field during game day.
"Makes everything more exciting, I feel," Kimberly High School drum major Emily Vollmer said. "It's in the background. But at the same time, it has a lot of influence."
Seniors Vollmer and Mia Pyle command the school's band as its two drum majors.
They are leaders who learned as freshmen that wanted to make a big impact with the band.
"At least for me, that's when I knew I wanted to be a drum major," Vollmer said. "Just seeing them and all the excitement that they had."
But when COVID hit, that excitement came to a stop, and Vollmer says the band just wasn't the same.
"It was very like, we're here for music and we can't do much else," Vollmer said.
Pyle says a lot of students left the band.
"They didn't know what band could be," Pyle said.
But now, the drum majors are helping change things up by giving the band a "refresh."
"The overall goal was to just to like be excited to be here, rather than this is mandatory, like all these games and things like that," Vollmer said.
Band director Daniel Goethals says the younger band members now pair up and work together with older band students.
After every home football game, one section of the band receives the "Spirit Stick."
So far, the award has gone to the percussionists and the trumpeters.
"It makes us really proud to see that student leadership at such an extremely high level," Goethals said.
"We're just trying to kind of like, bring us all together," Vollmer said.
And set the right tone for the whole community during the game.
Kimberly Athletic Director Ryan McGinnis says the high school band only performs during home games. So, the next time fans can see the band will be in two weeks when the Papermakers take on Oshkosh West at Papermaker Stadium Sept. 23. McGinnis says the band will march during its homecoming game Oct. 7 against Neenah.