PERRY HALL — After news surfaced that the Perry Hall High School band was denied permission by Baltimore County Public Schools to perform at one of the largest and most exciting school band festivals of the year, a massive effort, spearheaded by the PHHS Band Boosters and Baltimore County Board of Education member Julie Henn, occurred to ask the county to overturn its decision. In just over 48 hours or so, the BCPS central office reversed its previous decision, and on Oct. 2, the band performed the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” field show that they had been working on for several weeks in front of a live audience.
“It was frustrating to have something that is a highlight of their season taken away,” Jay Pelham, vice president of the PHHS Band Boosters, said in an interview. “Students spent hours upon hours rehearsing for the show, so it meant a lot to us that BCPS reversed the decision.”
A few days earlier, when the school announced that BCPS had prohibited the band from performing at the event, much of the community, Pelham included, thought the reason was coronavirus-related. BCPS had not given a reason for why the band was denied the opportunity.
In the reversal of its decision, however, BCPS said it was nothing more than a clerical mistake that was made denying the band’s request to perform, according to PHHS principal Craig Reed.
“Someone simply misunderstood that this type of trip was allowed,” Reed said. “There was no drama, in-fighting or exception made. It was only a paperwork error.”
The school had requested permission for the weekend activity, which is permitted according to the BCPS COVID-19 guidance for the 2021-22 school year.
BOE member Henn heard the news and reached out to the BCPS superintendent, and she encouraged others on social media to email the school system to reverse the decision.
“I have strongly advocated for clubs and extracurricular activities, a lot of which were taken away by the pandemic,” Henn said. “Students need an outlet, and for those who aren’t in sports, we have to look out for their social and emotional needs as well.”
Her own son participated in marching band for four years, so she has a “soft spot” for band kids, she said.
“I am very pleased that the decision was reversed,” she said. “It was the culmination of an effort by the boosters, the parents and the students.
The festival took place at Urbana High School on Saturday, and Perry Hall performed as an exhibition band, meaning it was an opportunity for the students to showcase what they had been working on and not compete.
“It gives the students a chance to feel like role models for other bands,” Pelham said. “Perry Hall has long had a reputation for its top-notch marching band and music program.”
Pelham’s son, John, is a junior trumpet player in the band, and Saturday was the first time that Pelham had seen the full show from start to finish.
“It was perfectly performed,” he said. “I really appreciate that we had so much support from the community in letting the county know just how important it was for our student musicians to participate.”