EHS drumline punishment reversed, set to play next season


Update, as of November 12: 

East Penn School District superintendent Kristen Campbell reported the restoration of the Emmaus High School drumline’s performances at football games during yesterday’s school board meeting, sequential to their controversial ban from playing for the student section. 

After EHS band director and teacher Ryan Harrington decided to terminate the drumline’s popular appearances at football games, a major backlash erupted from the East Penn community due to coverage from The Stinger, The Morning Call, WFMZ, 99.9 The Hawk, and a variety of local media sources.

Members of the EHS drumline look forward to performing for the student section next season. 

Following their viral performance at last Friday’s Freedom football game, Emmaus High School’s drumline is not permitted to play for the student section next season.

The removal of their appearances resulted when drumline, without asking permission of their advisors, performed a beat during Friday’s white-out game after placing baby powder on the drums for a crowd-pleasing visual effect. A video posted to @emmaus.drumline on Instagram was eventually reposted by the BarStool Sports’ Twitter account that following Sunday. The BarStool repost garnered nearly 114,000 views in just three days. 

Drumline, a subset of the EHS marching band, makes a routine appearance at the football games and performs beats in front of the student section. The team of 10 student percussionists strives to increase team spirit for EHS and the football team during their performances. This team building often includes zany, unconventional acts such as performing sextuplets upside down, or playing the beat to “Shots” by LMFAO feat. Lil Jon.

Junior Luke Wilson, a veteran member of drumline, expresses another one of the drumline’s purposes: to maximize student engagement during football games. 

“[We want to provide] something that they can enjoy while staying in the stands,” Wilson said. “Some kids leave at halftime, and a lot of our performances happen around halftime or afterwards, so it’s a good way to keep the students there until the end of the game.”

Their Instagram and Twitter accounts, both independent from the band’s social media, provide a platform to showcase many of their performances to a wider audience than just the EHS students present at football games. The accounts are denoted simply as @emmaus.drumline on Instagram and @emmausdrumline on Twitter, collectively gaining over 400 followers. 

However, once both accounts posted the video last Friday featuring junior drumline member Diangelo Tyner playing baby powder-coated bass drums to the tune of “Jig 2,” along with cheerleaders and students gleefully chanting in the background, popular sports blog BarStool Sports quickly noticed the video. 

“[BarStool] contacted us and said, ‘Hey, we want to post this,’ and I got that feeling of, ‘what just happened?’” Wilson said. “We couldn’t say no. And especially [since] we’re trying to really get school spirit up in here, with the Spirit Week and the Red Ribbon Week, it was just awesome. The administration, and the EPSD Twitter reposted that, and it seems to have gotten a really positive response.”

Band teacher and marching band director Ryan Harrington, however, was not pleased with the act. Disappointed with the students, he concluded that the drumline cease playing for the student section until 2021. 

Harrington cites damage to the band uniforms, drums, and an apology to the FHS athletic director for a baby powder-covered track as the reasons behind the temporary ban. Along with this, he worries the drumline will try more eccentric performances in the future due to the positive responses of the most recent performance.

“The feeling [and fear] is that they want to one-up that, and then one-up that, and soon we have animals bouncing around,” Harrington said. 

Although drumline members stated they occasionally ask permission for their unique performances, Wilson recalls that the percussionists typically “take the judgement into [their] own hands” for other acts. 

In light of the ban, EHS students had varied reactions, although most more negative than positive. Senior varsity cheerleader Taitum Mason felt disheartened upon hearing the news. As a cheerleader, she helps bring attention to the drumline by dancing and chanting with other cheerleaders to the drumlines’ beats on the sidelines.

“I think [the drumline players] add something to the football games that we haven’t had for awhile, and I just think they make everybody excited,” Mason said. “People have started coming to the games to watch [them].”

Other EHS students shared similar reactions on Instagram, commenting their grievances on @emmaus.drumline’s most recent post—the video clip which was featured on BarStool’s Twitter.

Commonly making an appearance in the student section, senior Brody Pavelko also expresses his distaste with the decision. 

“I think they should still play because it does hype up the student section,” Pavelko said. “And if they’re not allowed to play just because of the powder, then just ban the powder and not the drumline.”

Despite the situation, Wilson, alongside his band members, respect Harrington’s authority in his decision, although disappointed that they will be graduates by the time drumline will make another student section appearance. 

“It’s Mr. Harrington’s classroom, and he runs it how he sees fit, so if that’s what he deems a punishment, then we’ll accept that because he’s our teacher,” Wilson said.