Leaderships Don’t Sink

Ethan Kirkpatrick, Editor

Leadership is something that Rock Island High School takes very seriously, and teachers and students alike strive to be the best leaders they can be. Many of these leaders are in Rocky’s many extracurricular activities, such as Marching Band. 

In fact, Rock Island High School’s Marching Band has a whole section of students who go above and beyond in their band, and are known as the “student leaders.” These student leaders are handpicked by Mr. Carlin and the rest of the band department staff. Mr. Carlin remarked on the first traits that he looks for when choosing student leaders: “Responsibility: Can you turn things in on time? Can you do the simple task of getting an application done on time, or getting an essay in on time? Like, that’s a big thing. Can you do what I ask you to do and do it in a timely manner? That’s the biggest portion of it.” 

Obviously, Mr. Carlin values responsibility over everything, whether it’s in the form of self discipline on the field during practice, or just getting to rehearsals on time. There is a common saying around the band that is passed down the years like a religious scripture, “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be dead.” The last part of that may seem grim, but it follows a simple belief: The only excuse for being late to band is being dead.  

Mr. Carlin continued talking about his priorities when picking student leaders, saying that after responsibility, “…it becomes how good of a performer you are, what makes you stand out as a performer, do I see you in leadership roles? Then I discuss it with staff to see what they think.”  Mr. Carlin continued to say, “Some people you can see they’re charismatic and they just ooze leadership…because you have to remember, I’m dealing with 14-year-olds to 18-year-olds, and sometimes a 14-year-old just takes a little bit of time to develop. There’s diamonds in the rough just waiting to be brought out.”

Many students who have been in Rock Island’s band program for 4 years have partially adopted Mr. Carlin’s leadership ideas, with their own twists on what should make a good student leader. One of these students is senior, Shaila Christopher.

Shaila plays Alto Saxophone in Rocky’s Marching Band and Symphonic Band, and has been a member of the band for 4 years. Shaila commented that, “A leader has to be personable, has to get along with their group (section) really well, they have to be strict when they need to be. So if their section is not focused, they know how to lay the law down. They need to be able to put their section before them, so they can’t just put off their band for their own things.” Shaila knows that putting her responsibilities as a section leader first, after social activities, shows maturity and initiative. 

Many other seniors in the band would agree with her on what makes a leader, and these seniors try to pass down this belief to the underclassmen. This is important to the students because they all want the band to keep getting better, and want to make sure that future bands have the leadership to accomplish their goals. According to Shaila, “[Leadership is] very important. If we don’t have any leadership in the sections, then we have to rely solely on the four directors running the band, and that doesn’t always work, so the leadership within the band sort of makes the smaller sections work better.” 

When it comes to student leadership at Rocky, Marching Band students stand out. Because of the guidance of dedicated educators like Mr. Carlin, students are able to grow, change and reach their potential. And because of dedicated student leaders like Shaila Christopher, other students are inspired to follow in her footsteps.

The Pride of Rock Island performs during halftime of the home football game.