Bethel Pep Band Finding Blessings at Carroll Academy
Bethel University’s Pep Band members are finding blessings in nearby Huntingdon’s Carroll Academy gymnasium, according to Josh Smith, Assistant Professor of Music. The group has been attending the school’s basketball games and serving as pep band/cheer section for the Jaguars during the last couple of the school’s home basketball games.
Smith said the group decided to do this after he and his wife read a series of articles about Carroll Academy that were published in the New York Times.
“We also heard more about these young people at Carroll Academy in conversations with people at our church,” Smith said. “Our hearts just kind of sank to realize many of these kids don’t have any support at their games. So my wife and I got to thinking, and we decided I should pitch the idea to the Pep Band to go support these kids.”
Smith said when he pitched the idea to his band members, almost every single one of them raised their hand to volunteer to do it.
“After our first visit there,” Smith said, “I knew it was the beginning of something special. We had Carroll Academy administrators rushing to us to thank us. They had tears of joy in their eyes, and they reminded us that this would have a great impact on these kids. They even arranged to get us Carroll Academy T-shirts that we could wear on return visits.
“And our students…they got so much out of it. Their first question was when can we go back?”
Smith said they did go back, and they plan to continue to show what he calls Christ-like love to these students.
“This is a way we can show Christ-like love to these students,” Smith said. “The Carroll Academy students work hard on that basketball court, and it’s important to us that they know that we appreciate and love them for their contributions to the game.”
Smith said he is very proud of the Bethel Pep Band members for serving in this way.
“We are serving people around us,” Smith said. “That’s what I love about this group of kids. We are a musical pillar in this community, and they have the talent through music to brighten other people’s days.”
Pep Band member Dacoyda Heath says the Carroll Academy games have been an awesome experience.
“To know that we are making such an impact,” Heath said. “We can see it on their faces, and knowing that we maybe have offered a little bit of happiness or support feels really good.”
When asked what he hopes the Carroll Academy students get from the experience, Smith said, “I hope they get a taste of love and support. That was the motivating factor behind all of it. They are important too. I know it’s just a game. But there is no reason they can’t know that other people in their community appreciate them and love them.”