APOPKA, Fla. – The Wekiva High School band has been working for years fundraising for new uniforms. They’re still short about $20,000 and event organizers for the Apopka International Jazz Festival is trying to help. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the band to help get them closer to paying for the new uniforms.
“The uniforms we use were the ones that came with the school when it opened. The ‘W’ on the uniform is not anything used by Wekiva in any of our branding or logos. This gold color is a lot more pale. The accents on the uniform are too dark,” band director Joshua Grossnicklaus said.
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Grossnicklaus said the uniforms are from 2007, before Wekiva High School had a real identity. They are now worn out from the wear and tear over the past 14 years. The group has been fundraising for several years for an updated look.
“The new uniforms can range anywhere from $300 to $400 per uniform and it’s been difficult because we started the process and planned our fundraisers, then COVID hit,” Grossnicklaus said.
With plans to expand band membership to 200, Wekiva High School needs about $95,000 to purchase new uniforms. With the money they’ve raised so far they’re still about $20,000 short. Organizers of the Apopka International Jazz Festival are stepping in to help.
“Back in 2020 we had one of the high schools perform with us and it was a great experience for the youth program. When we chatted with them this year, we found the Wekiva High School is in need of uniforms. We decided this was the way we were going to assist them this year,” ZNL Productions Partner Zita Jolie Steglich-Ross said.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Wekiva High Band Program. Performers of the Jazz Fest are on board, saying music programs are essential to character development, especially at a young age.
“When you learn to play an instrument or read music, there’s so many components that go with it like developing one’s ability to relate to others, to be able to be persistent, patient, develop a skill,” Jazz flautist Nestor Torres said.
“It gives life balance, most importantly the creativity tears down barriers, whether social or economic and it needs to be instilled at a young age,” saxophonist Dee Lucas said.
The Wekiva High band director said the students work hard practicing for performances and supporting student athletes at games. They’ve become a family.
“Marching band is the family you get to choose,” Grossnicklaus said. “This is a place they can feel connected to each other and a place where they get a chance to work on something they’re passionate about. A place where they belong at a time when they’re teenagers looking to fit in.”
They hope to have the new uniforms in time for the upcoming school year. The new outfits have school’s mascot, the Mustang, on the front.
“Some of my students are like, ‘We’ll believe it when we see it’ because we’ve been trying to make it happen for so long. It’s going to be one of the highlights to start the year, to hit the field under the Friday night lights for the first time in the newest uniforms the school has seen in over 14 years,” Grossnicklaus said.
Click here to learn more about the Wekiva High Band and to donate to their uniform drive.