Sickles High School Bands

HOME OF THE GRYPHONS  ~  7950 Gunn Highway, Tampa FL  33626

Marching Season: Guide for New Parents/Guardians

This guide is the product of former “new band parents” who spend a good bit of time in our first year in various stages of confusion. In the many hours we spent watching practices, picking up our kids, and going to competitions, we have all felt confused, lost, and totally bewildered at one time or another. We hope this document will help ease you through the transition from “new” band parent to “veteran” band parent.

For most of us (parents and students alike), the transition from middle school band programs to high school band programs is huge, especially with the addition of marching band. The increased expectations come with greater rewards, in terms of your student’s accomplishments and the pride you will have in watching their accomplishments. This document is our attempt to share with you some of the finer points of making the most of your years as a band parent. 

The SHS Marching Band program is supported by a parent run organization - the Sickles High School Band Boosters (SHSBB). The SHSBB exists solely through volunteer parents in order to help provide your students with an enjoyable and rewarding band experience. Please join us in meeting this challenge by volunteering your time and talents. The students will reap the benefits.  We welcome all new parents and look forward to getting to know you and your students!

Fees associated with participation with the band (marching, concert, & Sensations) are outlined in the Band and Sensations Handbooks.  The fees are used to offset the expense of running the marching and concert bands, including band camp, uniforms, transportation, staff, equipment, etc.

Concert Ensemble participation for wind/percussion students runs concurrently with marching band, however, there are no after school concert band rehearsals until after marching season is over. 

Band Booster meetings are held usually the first or second Tuesday of the month beginning in September. The meeting begins at 6:00pm in the band room and usually does not last more than 30-45 minutes. Any change in the schedule will be posted in the calendar on the Home Page. Your participation is most welcomed.

Band Camp - Onsite

Band camp is held in late July/August a couple of weeks prior to the start of school. Percussion and Sensations usually meet 4-6 times throughout the summer. Dates and times are always announced before the end of the school year. The staff and students work very hard throughout those days. The scheduled start and stop times may vary as well. It is important for the students to attend as many of those sessions as possible because this is when they begin to learn the music for their marching band show.

The kids get quite a workout. Be prepared for plenty of sweating.  It is an experience most of the kids “love to hate.” Make sure your students dress appropriately – t-shirts, shorts, comfortable sneakers, hat, and plenty of sunscreen. This is marching band and we live in FLORIDA! Bring a large water container – unlimited refills are available throughout the day – water is your best friend. Have your student drink a bottle of water before and after rehearsal as well so that they stay hydrated.

The first Saturday after the first week of band camp there is a Band Picnic where EVERY student brings their family for food, fun, games, and a good time so that everyone can get to know everyone. Please consult the calendar on the Home Page for date, time, and place.

Band Camp culminates with a “show-n-tell” for the band families. It is great fun to come out and see how far the kids have come in just two short weeks. We plan for a parent meeting following the show-n-tell, so you can meet other band parents, the staff, and the booster organization and complete and have notarized necessary paper work for the school year.

A major benefit of band camp – when your freshman or new marching band student arrives for the first day of high school, he or she will already be a part of a well respected group and will have a whole new group of friends (across all grades) to help with the transition into high school. Our band students look out for each other and especially for the new members.

Marching Band Season, Football Games, Festivals and Uniforms

The marching band season starts as band camp ends. Practice continues after school during the week. Mr. Griffis will provide your students with a practice schedule, which is typically every Tuesday and Thursday 4pm-7pm. Be sure to ask your student for the schedule. The schedule is also posted on our web site calendar. At Sickles there are usually only three Saturdays that have band events during the marching season (All day rehearsal, a competition, and our Marching Music Performance Assessment).

The band performs their show at half time at all football games (Friday evenings – with a Thursday or two thrown in every once in a while), as well as "stands tunes" in the stands during the game. The band has a roped off section in the stands and many of the band parents sit together near the band – a great opportunity to get to know other parents and see your student perform up close.

The marching band performs with other high school bands twice in the fall. The festivals can be local or out of town. Your student is responsible for having a permission slip signed for all events (they cannot get on the bus without it). This form is one of the necessary pieces of paper that is signed at the end of band camp. Please come to as many events as you can. All of the students appreciate hearing the cheering from the stands. It is great to watch the competitions and cheer the kids on.
Your student will be issued a marching uniform consisting of a jacket, pants, and gauntlets, which are loaned to them, and they will purchase their own cavalier hat, marching shoes, and gloves (except percussion) through the Band Boosters. They will need to provide long black socks (at least mid calf). Students are responsible for assuring that they treat their uniform with care. Each event, the uniform is issued to the student on a labeled hanger. The student is responsible for returning the uniform properly hung to the parents in the uniform room. Uniforms and gauntlets are sent out for dry cleaning throughout the year. The uniform or gauntlets should not be removed without permission from the band director.

Each student is also issued a Sickles Band t-shirt and shorts, which is to be worn to school on Friday during Marching Band season. The shirt is also worn under their uniform at all marching events. Students must wear shorts under their uniform and denim material is prohibited.

It is imperative that your student comes to each event prepared! They should have their instrument, music (if needed), CLEAN shoes, hat, gloves, and black socks (at least mid-calf). Without these items – they will not be able to participate and will be marked down on their grade.

Help Us Help the Students - Many Hands Make Lighter Work!

During the year, but especially during marching season, the students need many helping hands behind the scenes to make their shows successful. As your student enters high school, this is one of the many opportunities you may have to stay involved with their activities and get to know the kids they spend a great deal of their time with through the week. The students realize very quickly that marching band doesn’t happen without a lot of parental support. The boosters will be looking for parents to:
  • Help with uniform fittings and alterations
  • Help with cleaning and organizing the uniform and equipment rooms
  • Help with parking fee collection or concessions at home games
  • Help “lost and bewildered parents and students: find their way
  • Help to pack coolers with 150 water bottles and ice, as well as distribute water to band members during football games and competitions
  • Help load equipment onto the track as needed or getting the equipment down to the field during home games
  • Help wipe down bleachers where students will be seated (we’re all about saving those uniform pants!) and rope off the band section
  • Help distribute uniforms to the section leaders
  • Help with Sensations in dressing room
  • Help sell gloves as needed ($5 per pair) in uniform room
  • Help assist students in the auditorium prior to inspection by responding to uniform emergencies (my zipper won’t zip, my gauntlets don’t fit, I need a band aid to cover the earrings I’m not supposed to be wearing and do you have any nail polish remover for the fabulous purple polish I’m not supposed to be wearing??)
  • Help to assimilate students in line to march to field or board buses
  • If buses, assure that supply bags and medical release forms folders are present and roll is taken prior to departure at each location
  • Drive the instrument truck
  • Help getting equipment on and off the field during half-time shows and events (drum major podiums, props, instruments)
  • Help chaperone events, including water distribution, the 3rd quarter concession, and any as needed bleacher scenarios
  • Help with post event uniform collection, inspection and instruction on hanging of uniforms
  • Help with any other special talents or skills you have to offer the program!
  • Help with planning and creative suggestions on Senior Night, Band Banquet, and Band Picnic.

All volunteers must complete a SERVE form and log their hours in the volunteer book, kept in the uniform room.  All volunteers should wear nametags and their Band Booster shirts at all events.

Band Picnic, Senior Night and Annual Band Banquet

Band Picnic - It has been a tradition in the SHS Band to gather for a pre-marching season picnic where we meet and catch up from the summer. It is also a time to get to know the new marching band students and parents that have transitioned from middle school or from another location. We also begin to reflect on the activities that lay ahead and how we will meet the student’s and the programs needs. Pizza, soda, chips, burgers, hot dogs, water, and lots of fun are provided.

Senior Night – It has been a tradition in the SHS Band to honor our senior students and their parents prior to the game. Students are escorted onto the field by their parents or significant other family members to be greeted and acknowledged by the principal and band director. Try to be there for Senior Night to see the presentation.

Band Banquet – It has been a tradition in the SHS Band for us to celebrate our successful year with students, family and faculty for an end-of-year banquet. The cafeteria is transformed into a theme-appropriate party experience including dinner, videos, and award presentations. The highlight of the evening includes the announcement of next seasons marching show.


We conduct several fundraisers throughout the year to support the Band and Sensations program. Please try to participate as you can in any of these or provide us with your ideas for others:

  • Car Washes – We hold several car washes throughout the year and it is a great time for your student to get to know the other members of the band in an informal, fun setting. Look for the sign up sheets!
  • Concessions/Parking – We sometimes are called to work concessions at football games. We need parents to volunteer to work. This is a great opportunity to get to know other band parents and enjoy the events.
  • Product Sales – Mattresses and gift cards are just a few ideas.
  • Basket Raffle – During the Winter and Spring Concerts, and the Band Banquet we look for donations from the local community and band families to create these baskets. Requests for items will be posted on the band web site or sent out via e-mail (make sure you are on the e-mail list!).
  • Your ideas!

Here at Sickles High School we are very fortunate to have a great staff that assists Mr. Griffis and works with the students. It is imperative that we fundraise plenty to ensure that we can maintain such a fantastic staff!

Helpful Hints to Save You Time, Gas and Grief!

Mr. Griffis, the staff, and the booster organization want this to be a positive experience for all the students and their families. Here are some helpful hints (learned from our own experiences):

  1. Hold your child responsible for being prepared. The first time they forget something, will likely be the last. They really do learn to be resourceful when they have to be.
  2. “If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late. If you are late, get ready for Griffis!” This means that students are expected to arrive for scheduled practice and report times no later than 15 minutes early so they are in position and ready to rehearse at the scheduled start time.
  3. When you pick up your child from practice, try to be there a little early: the staff cannot leave the premises until all students have been picked up. This is a safety issue for students as well as the staff. Mr. Griffis and the staff have families of their own and do want to see them.
  4. Mr. Griffis and the staff try very hard to end practice at the scheduled time. Occasionally practice may run over. Please be patient…it is usually for a good reason.
  5. Ask your student for the schedule each week, but be prepared for changes.
  6. Check the web site often.
  7. Network – Take the opportunity to meet other parents (after practice, at games & competitions, fundraising activities, etc.). This is how we all meet each other. It is also the best way to find carpools and get helpful hints on band parenting from others.
  8. Be prepared to cheer! The band loves it when they have their own cheering section at games and competitions. Keep all small uniform items (socks, shoes, gloves, etc.) in a bag (you can purchase a personalized bag that is embroidered with your student’s name from the store. The link for the store is on the website.) That way, you won’t spend time hunting for them when needed.
  9. Don’t hesitate to ask any of the “veteran” band parents or SHS Board Members. We’ve all been there and are anxious to help.
  10. Make sure your student has the required reeds, mouthpieces, valve oil, slide grease, and mallets needed for their instrument to be in working condition at all times. If your student does not come prepared their grades will be affected.

Chaperone Guidelines

The support and assistance of parent chaperones assists in the success of band activities. A parent’s involvement demonstrates support for their child in his/her musical endeavors. Parents as well as students should receive utmost RESPECT and COURTESY at all times.

Chaperones are expected to support the philosophy of the program as stated by the Director. Chaperones will ride on the buses and stay with the band during the entire activity. Anyone who volunteers to be a chaperone accepts certain responsibilities as “away-from-home parents” and will be expected to carry out assigned duties. Punctuality is necessary. Chaperones are prohibited from consuming alcoholic beverages immediately before or during band activities and trips. Smoking is not allowed. All rules and guidelines are made with the safety and welfare of the band members in mind. 

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. The chaperone “uniform” consists of an SHS Band Booster Polo Shirt. Be sure that if you are moving equipment you are wearing sneakers. If parents are ever needed for on-field equipment moving, there will be a set uniform.
  2. The bus leader will retrieve the bus attendance/medical form binders from the Director’s office before loading the bus and will take roll call when departing both home and the away site.
  3. See that all SHS Band and Sensations rules are followed. Basic rules appear in both the Band and Sensations Handbook. The Volunteer Coordinator will provide more specific rules and procedures as needed.
  4. While the band is out of the stands (performing or during third quarter break) some chaperones will stay to watch the seating area, while most while most will help with equipment.
  5. Individual permission for a student to leave the seating area may only be granted by the Director.
  6. The band will not leave the seating area until instructed to do so by the Director or Drum Major(s).  Restrooms can be used during the third quarter when the band is dismissed for break.
  7. After the band has left the seating area at the end of the game, check to be sure that all trash is picked up and put into garbage bags, and that no items have been left behind.
  8. For safety reasons, when leaving a football game, close all bus windows and keep them closed until the bus is several blocks away from the stadium.
  9. When the students have left the buses at the conclusion of a trip, check that no belongings have been left behind.
  10. If you have a problem with any student failing to follow directions or showing disrespect, see the Director immediately. The role of a chaperone is to guide and assist. The Band Director or Sensations Director will handle all discipline problems.
  11. If a student becomes ill enough (in the opinion of a chaperone) to warrant calling his/her parents, the Band Director will be informed of the situation and will be responsible for contacting and discussing the problem with the parents. If there is such a problem, see the Director!
  12. Please be reminded that your children who are not band members will have to pay to enter any games or band events.
  13. During concert seasons parents will be needed to run concessions at concerts and help with stage crew (setting up chairs and stands).
  14. Sensations parents will need to volunteer their time and gas to car pool the students to 5-6 competitions during the spring semester.
  15. Parents are to act professional at all times and if they have a problem with a staff member to report directly to the Director.
  16. Make sure we have your e-mail so you can receive important information from Mr. Griffis!
  17. Please do not interfere with the Director and his staff with their teaching. 
Guard - Sensations and WInterguard
Sensations Color Guard serves as the “visual flavor” of the Wall of Sound, performing with dance, flag, rifle, and sabre ensembles. Sensations members are dedicated performers, participating at all Sickles Football Games, Pep Rallies, Band Concerts, Solo Ensemble, and Parades. The Color Guard performers are all selected by an audition process and work hard to produce quality routines and visual excitement for the Wall of Sound Halftime Show. 

In addition to the Fall marching season, Sensations also competes as a Winterguard unit in the Florida Federation of Colorguards Circuit. This performance group is a past medalist in the FFCC and strives every year to produce quality competitive shows. 

The Sensations have a first period class in the band room called Eurythmics where they learn and practice choreography. 

  • Marching Season Tryouts: April/May
  • Winterguard Tryouts: November

Interested in auditioning for Sensations?

Little Sensations

Each year the Sickles Sensations and Marching Band host “Little Sensations” Night. Children between the ages of 5-13 can become a Little Sensation for a night. Little Sensations get to learn dances, shake pom poms, and be the star of a football game. They learn the pre-game show (The National Anthem and a specially selected song) and perform with the Wall of Sound. After the pregame show the kids help cheer on the Sickles Gryphons football team and continue their dancing in the stands. 

“Little Sensations” is an annual event that helps raise funds for the many activities of the Sickles High School Band and Colorguard as well as giving young kids their first experience performing with a high school band and color guard.  Be sure to check this site every year for registration information for the Little Sensations Night.


We hope this document has been helpful.  Anytime you feel lost, tap a “veteran” parent on the shoulder and ask for help.  Our main goal is for each of the students to have a great experience being part of the Sickles High School Band and Sensations program.  As stated earlier, we are a parent run organization.  We look forward to getting to know each and EVERY family.  Each student and their parents contribute to the band programs and make it a great place to be.