Going on the eleventh year of use, it was time the El Campo High School Ricebird band changed its uniforms.

The El Campo ISD board of trustees approved 160 new uniforms as part of a consent agenda at a cost of $92,673.60 at its regular board meeting Tuesday, and Band Director Mark Van Gorp and his students couldn’t be more pleased.

“We were due for some. The old uniforms were getting worn out,” Van Gorp said.

With 125 to 130 students participating in band this year, Van Gorp placed the order in expectation of growth within the program.

“You also have to have stock uniforms in different sizes because the students’ sizes changes from year to year, and if you order later it is hard to match the fabric color,” he said. “We try to get enough to where we don’t have to order three to four uniforms each year.”

The new uniform not only updates the band’s look, but Van Gorp expects the design to showcase the school’s colors more and endure through ever-changing trends. An eight-to-ten year life expectancy also cuts costs.

“You have to pick something that is flashy and updated but will last through the years. It needs to be plain and basic for some parts of it,” Van Gorp said.

The jacket is a brighter red with mirrored black accents on the front and the back is black, all of which make the colors pop where the current uniforms are a darker red. The uniform is finished out from head to toe starting with a red and black plume with light and dark gray accents and a red wrap with three silver buttons over a light gray strip to a curved collar, white wrist gauntlets with two silver buttons to black pants and black shoes.

The band and board had two options to choose from with one option including white pants.

“Black pants just make sense. White pants are a nightmare for cleaning. They look good for the first year but get dirty fast and are hard to keep clean,” Van Gorp said.

Black pants also hide marching mistakes, he said.

“If you take a solid black color on the grass everything blends in, and it smears the whole look of the lower body of the kids. If you put a big white stripe on the side, you see everyone who is out of step.”

Also, no matter what shape or size the students is, black is a slimming color.

“We are going for a slim look. You have the plume at the top of the hat that makes it a full extension to bib pants that allows the jacket to be shorter. It lengthens the look of the student, makes them look taller and their belly is covered,” Van Gorp said. “A lot of thought goes into it.”

The students are excited to wear the new uniforms, but may have to wait until contest time in October with the recently placed order taking threeto four months to arrive.

Van Gorp is looking forward to what the new uniforms will add to the band’s game performances.

“We want the (Ricebird) fans to support us. This will be my 25th year in El Campo and my 31st year to teach, but every time you get to the stadium you feel what you do is part of the Friday night. If fans can see more red and white on the field maybe we have done our part.”

In addition to the uniforms, the band also has a new trailer purchased this past spring. The uniforms and the trailer will only enhance the band’s competition performances, too especially when it comes to uniformity.

“Old uniforms get saggy and baggy and don’t wear like when they were new, and that can hurt your score,” Van Gorp said.

Overall, the uniforms boost morale, he said.

“It makes the kids feel like they are important, like the school board and the superintendent support them and they think it’s important for you to look good. It adds a positive attitude,” he added.

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