Too vintage

Tired of dingy, faded uniforms nearly as old as their parents, members of the Phoenix High School competitive marching band are hoping to replace them with the help of Pepsi and some soda-drinking fans.

The band is in the running for a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project (, which funds community projects ranging from building food pantries to helping homeless animals.

Grant winners are decided by website visitors who can cast up to five votes per day. Band Director Mike Deroest said the small school had maintained enough votes since its project was posted online in early May to remain in or near the top 10.

Grants are available in various categories for $5,000, $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000. The PHS band is seeking a $25,000 grant.

Deroest, who said most bands get uniforms every 10 years, said the idea to vie for a Pepsi grant came after Phoenix Elementary School won a similar, $5,000 grant for playground equipment last year.

"My predecessor bought (the uniforms) his first year teaching at Phoenix High and he was here for close to 30 years," Deroest said. "We've been trying to get new uniforms, but with all the financial problems going on in education these days, we're kind of out of luck."

One of the few bands in Southern Oregon that still travels and participates in marching competitions, PHS's $10,000 annual budget is consumed by travel costs and instrument repair.

Hazael Lopez, a senior who plays trumpet in the band, said the uniforms are embarrassing as well as uncomfortable.

"They're just all falling apart and we really need new ones," he said. "You can't really move in them and they're terribly hot, so it's really hard to do our best on the field.

"I guess you could say they have a vintage look to them because they pretty much have yellow stains to them and the color is all faded. It's pretty disgusting."

Senior Liza Barondeau, who plays alto saxophone, said outgoing seniors are hoping to leave next year's band members looking a bit less vintage than this year's group.

"Our band has worked really hard and we have been improving a lot for the last several years, so I think we deserve to have uniforms that demonstrate that," she said.

Barondeau said it would be fun for band members to be able to credit a soda company with funding of new uniforms, ironically, in the same three colors that adorn a Pepsi can: red, white and blue.

"It would be really awesome to have them funded by Pepsi because it would be something really different, but also because the kind of fundraisers we could do definitely don't make $25,000," she said.

"I can't even imagine how many hundreds of car washes it would take to make $25,000."

The deadline for voting is midnight, May 31, with finalists announced June 1. Phoenix's proposal can be read at

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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