Ravens band gives community the chance to win a car

Coastal Point • Submitted: Tushar Patel, general manager of Hertrich Toyota of Milford, presents the keys to a 2017 Toyota Camry to Sussex Technical High School's Band Director, Ian Kenney.Coastal Point • Submitted: Tushar Patel, general manager of Hertrich Toyota of Milford, presents the keys to a 2017 Toyota Camry to Sussex Technical High School's Band Director, Ian Kenney.One lucky person could be driving a brand-new 2017 Toyota Camry this December, as the Sussex Technical High School Band Program is now selling tickets for the raffle of a vehicle donated by Hertrich Toyota of Milford.

“I give all the credit to the parents,” said Band Director Ian Kenney of the Ravens Music Boosters, who have organized the raffle. “We have one band parent who knew somebody up at Hertrich in Milford and was able to say, ‘Hey, this band is taking a big trip and it’s costing them $1,600 per student. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.’ They ended up saying, ‘Well, we can give you a monetary donation, or we can get you a car to try to sell tickets to raffle off.’”

This is the first new-car raffle the band has done, said Kenney, noting that in a previous year there had been a used-car raffle.

Tickets cost $100 each and can be purchased online, by mail, during Sussex Tech home football games and at the band’s winter concert, while supplies last. Only 750 tickets are available for the raffle. The car is valued at up to $21,000.

As of last week, Kenney said, more than half the tickets have been signed out by students to sell.

“We’ve had many dozens come back already, and there’s a lot of interest.”

The winning ticket will be drawn around 8 p.m. on Dec. 21, following the Sussex Tech Band’s winter concert at the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown. The winner does not need to be present.

The raffle is the band’s primary fundraiser for the school year and will help defer the cost for students to travel to New Orleans, where they will represent Delaware during a halftime performance of more than 110 high school bands at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2, 2017.

In the past, the marching band has performed in Walt Disney World, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, at Penn State University’s Band Day and the University of Delaware’s Band Day. They traveled to Pearl Harbor in 2011 for the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, to Chicago for the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade, and to Indianapolis for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

“The band has been all over the place,” said Kenney with a laugh. “It’s a huge motivator. With this trip is, there’s competition down there. The second day down there, the winner of that field competition will perform the pregame of the Sugar Bowl. We are going to be performing halftime, regardless, because they do a mass band performance with all the bands that are going to go down there. All the bands get on the field at the same time for halftime.

“Trips like this are great motivators. It’s a long-term goal that we can work for. They understand the visibility of this program — not just locally, but nationally. And they know that there’s tradition and a reputation and a lot to live up to there.

“When people see Sussex Tech band, people have an expectation of what they’re going to see. I think the students really strongly understand that. These trips are usually great way to do all of that.”

Kenney said that, while the school district is in an enrollment decline, Sussex Tech’s band numbers are up.

“We are up almost a dozen from this point a year ago. I think the priority for me, coming in as a teacher, was to preserve the spirit, the tradition — what makes this special to the students. ‘What do they love about this band?’” he said, adding that he had to put his touch on it as well, after taking on the position three years ago.

Sussex Tech offers students the chance to perform in marching band, jazz band, concert band, basketball pep band and, new last year, indoor color guard.

“I’m trying to give students more opportunities to perform,” said Kenney. “I want to give students the foundation that they would need to go into a college music program. That has been a priority of mine.”

Last year, five Sussex Tech students were named Delaware All-State music selections, where music students from across the state audition and only the best-of-the-best are chosen to participate and perform together.

“This year, 20 or so will audition, which is a really, really great number for All-State,” he said, adding that up to 60 Tech students are expected to audition for the All-County Band.

Although his music department doesn’t have a feeder program, as most other schools in the state do, Kenney said the program has grown to have some talented students with a passion for music.

“I know they want to be here. I know they want to come to Sussex Tech. That was a choice that they made,” he said. “I tell the students, ‘Every time you go out there, you have the potential to make an impact on someone who may make the decision to come and be a part of the program. You never know.”

To purchase raffle tickets and for a complete list of contest rules, or for more information, visit www.ravensmusicboosters.com. For more information on the Sussex Tech High School Raven Nation Marching Band, visit www.sussextechband.com or www.facebook.com/sussextechband.