AMERICAN FORK HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND RETURNS TO POCATELLO, WITH THANKS
American Fork, Utah – 7 October 2015 – For the American Fork High School Marching Band community, this Saturday is the sixth anniversary of a tragedy. On October 10, 2009, one of the band’s four buses left the freeway south of Pocatello and rolled onto its side, killing 33-year-old woodwind instructor Heather Christensen and injuring 42 of the 55 students aboard.
The band was returning from a competition at Holt Arena at Idaho State University, when the bus driver blacked out due to a medical condition. Christensen left her seat and attempted to regain control of the bus. She was killed when the bus rolled onto its side, after missing a culvert and some rock formations which could have made the accident more severe.
“Heather saved a lot of lives that night,” said Tim Osborn, a band parent who was then serving on the Alpine School Board. He had attended the competition and arrived on the scene shortly after the accident.
On Saturday, for the first time since the accident, the AFHS Marching Band will perform in Pocatello at the annual Mountain West Marching Invitational. AFHS Director of Bands John Miller said, “We thought it was time to return to Pocatello, as much to show our appreciation to the community as to perform.”
Remembering that tragic weekend, Miller singles out for praise “the good Samaritans who stopped to help; the Idaho State Police, Bannock County Sheriff’s Department, fire fighters, ambulance personnel, and other first responders; the hospital staff in Pocatello; the administration and band teachers at ISU who met us at the hospital and offered food, lodging, and anything else we needed;
and many others who helped us in a difficult time.”
Osborn said, “The kindness and professionalism of everyone involved was just incredible. It shows you the kind of community that Pocatello is. The memories will live with us forever.”
The outpouring of public support and sympathy continued after the band returned home. Miller recalled, “In the days and weeks after the accident, our band room and our hearts were filled with letters, cards, flowers, and other expressions of love and support from around the world.”
Of the students involved in the accident, only one remained hospitalized the following day. Three nights after the accident, every member of the band was on the field at Brigham Young University’s Lavell Edwards Stadium for the band’s next scheduled competition. A few students with serious injuries played from seats at the edge of the field, instead of marching.
That night, the west stands of the stadium were filled with band members and supporters from many schools and cities, as the American Fork band performed last in the competition. That year’s field show honored military veterans, but, beginning that night, it honored Christensen as well, with a large banner and a few words of narrative.
None of the current band members was in the band in 2009, but some were in the stands that night with their families. Miller reflected, “I never saw a show where, when the music stops, there’s no applause for a while. That night, you could hear people weeping. And there were little kids in the stands who felt the power and emotion of that moment, and decided right then that they had to be in the band.”
At the end of the season, in early November, the band received a last-minute invitation to Grand Nationals in Indianapolis. To accept the invitation, they had to raise about $250,000 in two days. Donations poured in from near and far, and the following weekend the band reached the national semifinals and won the Esprit de Corps Award.
Band mom Sarah Beeson said, “I just recall how the kids pulled together for the rest of the season, after the accident. No one was alone. The parents just stood back and watched them take care of each other. And if we asked the kids how they could keep going, they said, ‘We’re doing this for Heather.’”
Richard Flores was Christensen’s student for five years. Then a drum major, he was on one of the other buses when the accident occurred. Remembering Christensen he said, “She was a very thoughtful person, focused on helping others get better. She was incredible.”
Miller said, “Heather was a dear friend, and so much of the good she did is still with us.”
Ordinarily, the largest bands perform in the evening at competitions, but American Fork will perform Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Holt Arena, then leave for Logan, Utah, for another competition that evening.
$30 2013-14 Combination Year End DVD/ AF Band "Champions of the West" Documentary
$20 2013-14 AF Band "Champions of the West" Documentary ONLY (year end DVD not included)
$20 2014-15 AF Band Year End DVD
2015 Allstate Band and Orchestra
Jacob Baldwin – Alto Sax
Brayden Bezzant – Tenor Sax
Jason Cannon – Clarinet
Kyle Cannon – Horn
Christian Davidson – Horn
Wyatt Gilles - Trombone
Davis Johnson – Euphonium
Rebecca Lambert Clarinet / Orchestra
Jake Miller – Percussion / Orchestra
Melanie Rugg Flute
BreAnne Osborn – Oboe
Natasha Ramirez – Clarinet
Joel Rodeback – Horn
Sam Schiess – Tuba / Orchestra
Scott Smith – Clarinet
Treven Thomas - Horn
Welcome to the American Fork HS Band
The American Fork H.S. Band program consists of over 300 students in grades 9-12. The Marching Band performs in several local parades each summer and the competitive band has been the Utah State Marching Band Champions for the past 23 years. The Concert and Jazz Bands have received consistent Superior ratings at local and regional festivals for the past 25 years. Their director, John Miller will be finishing his 28th year at American Fork in 2013. Following is a listing of some of the AF Bands accomplishments.
Utah State Marching Band Champions for the past 24 years
Jazz Band superior rating for the past 21 years
Jazz Band 1st place Crescent Jazz Festival 6 of 8 years
Concert Bands consistent Superior ratings at all festivals
Wind Symphony performance at Bands of America National
Concert Band Festival 2003
2012, 1998 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade
2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2009 Bands Of America Western Regional Champions
2010 Recipient of John Philip Sousa “Sudler Shield”
2013, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2002 Bands of America Grand National Semi-Finalist
2007, 2014 New York City Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
2005 Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington DC
2002 Utah Official Band for announcement of SLC Winter Olympics
1995 Bands of America Grand National Finalist
Parents can order reprints of their students band photos. The web address is www.dsportraits.com. Click on the band logo. The ordering deadline is Nov 13th. And don't forget, $2 from every order is donated to the band!
AFMB Rehearsals and Wasatch Front
2015 AF Marching Band Delta Camp
AF Marching Band @ Summer Concert
Flag Day Performance 1015
Mountain Point Hospital Jazz Band Performance
"Fly Me To The Moon" 2015 Jazz Dinner Dance More pics on Jazz tab
AF Symphonic Band and Wind Symphony receive Superior Ratings at 2015 UMEA State Band Festival!