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Davis Journal

Farmington High marching band works hard – but it’s worth it

Sep 01, 2023 08:34AM ● By Ariel Harmer
The Farmington High School marching band performs a complex routine at a regional competition. Photo courtesy of Marcie Hayes 

The Farmington High School marching band performs a complex routine at a regional competition. Photo courtesy of Marcie Hayes 

For students at Farmington High, the marching band isn’t just an extracurricular: it’s a serious commitment that requires money, time and physical exertion. To the kids in the band, it’s all worth it. 

“It is a lot of work, and it can get really hard,” Kate McConkie, a band member, said. “What makes it worth it for me is the feeling when you get off the field and you have that adrenaline rush.”

Michelle Millburn, whose daughter Sienna is also in the band, said the students work tirelessly to prepare intricate shows for their performances.

“They're phenomenal, they’re so much fun to watch,” she said. “I would love to see these kids get the recognition that they deserve, because they work so hard.”

The marching band starts practicing in the spring and performs throughout the fall. The band plays in the stands at football games and has one halftime performance during the football season. 

They also compete in statewide and regional marching band competitions. The band held the title of state champion in the 5A division in both 2019 and 2020, although they now compete in the 6A division.

Brek Mangelson, the marching band’s director, has been at Farmington High since it opened in 2018. The band has 117 members this year, which Mangelson said is actually the smallest open-class 6A band in the state. Despite their relatively small size, Mangelson said the kids are fierce competitors and are up to the challenge of competing against bands double their size. 

“I’m really proud of all the progress that they make and how hard they work,” he said.

In addition to the marching band, the Farmington High band program has two jazz bands, two full concert bands, a percussion ensemble and a color guard. Those programs all operate during the school day, while marching band functions as an optional after-school activity.

While the marching band is approved by the school district as an extracurricular activity, it does not receive district funding. Some school districts in Utah have official stipends for their marching bands, but the Davis School District is not one of them. 

“Everything is funded one hundred percent from student fees,” Mangelson said.

Millburn said the students hold fundraisers around the community in order to pay for competition costs. 

“Of course the parents pitch in whatever we can, but it's a very expensive endeavor,” she said. “These kids are working their guts out.”

The marching band is set apart from the other school bands not only by its lack of funding but also by the physical effort necessary to participate. Mangelson said that one benefit of the band being associated with the school is that students can actually receive P.E. credit for participating. Marching band is a physically demanding activity, as members need to perform choreographed movements across a field all while carrying and playing heavy instruments. 

“These kids are athletes,” Millburn said. “I had no idea until we got into this how hard they work. They have to do all kinds of really athletic conditioning to get to the point where they can get out there and do these shows.”

 Only four of the high schools in the Davis School District have marching bands, and none receive district funding. 

Sienna Millburn, a member of the marching band, expressed her hope that the community would continue to step in and provide assistance and encouragement. “The marching band really needs support,” she said. 

Mangelson expressed similar sentiments.

“It’s super important to protect the arts,” he said. “I think that there should be a push at the district level to fund [marching band] just like they do any other activity. I think that we would see growth and a lot more support if we had the funding to make that possible […] More students could participate, because it would be more financially feasible.”

Millburn said that despite the difficulty and commitment necessary to participate, she loves being in the marching band. “It’s hard,” she said. “But in the end, it’s worth it.”

The band’s first competition this season will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Utah State University. For more information on future shows or how to support the band, visit