DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - DeKalb County students may be heading back to class, but members of the Lakeside Viking Band have already started their preparations for the season.
That includes drill practice, music rehearsals, and a lot of safety when it comes to the head.
At the end of the day, a combination of harmony and unison is what's marching this band forward - getting ready for halftime at high school football games well before school begins.
"You're dealing with students who've never marched before. There's new styles, new drills," Dr. David Fairchild said.
Fairchild is now in his 21st year of directing bands at Lakeside - a job he started fresh out of college in 2003.
"It's changed a lot over time, but it's still a wonderful place to be a musician and to teach music," he said.
The group spent the last month preparing for a season filled with halftime shows, parades, competitions, and other events.
Horn flashes and precise marching has also led to personal connections between the group.
"I really enjoy all the people I've met. I think that sense of comradery among everyone," Junior piccolo player Hannah Choi said. "Everyone is super nice, and it's really welcoming"'
When it comes to the Georgia heat, everyone is in harmony with the safety protocols.
"Anything above 80, really especially when it's humid, we start taking extra precautions to not only make sure there are water breaks every half hour or less, but that students are in the shade when they take them," Fairchild said. "That after being outside for a certain amount of time we're inside the in the air conditioning so that everyone can cool down."
For those still on the fence about taking that first step and joining the band, Senior saxophone player Evan Georgia said you just have to find the instrument that's meant for you.
For Fairchild, the feeling of comradery is a melody that plays on and on.
"This group of kids is just the most fun group of kids to have on my team," he said. "I'm just looking forward to being around them while they experience all these things."
When asked, most of the 130-member band said they're looking forward to the competitions most of all.