A sense of pride and eagerness fills East Bernard High School Band Director Robert Palermo as he speaks about the programs he has planned for the upcoming season for the marching band. This will be his first year in East Bernard ISD, but Palermo has directed marching bands in Needville, Progreso, and Brownsville. 

He’s preparing students for several festivals and contests which will be held in October, otherwise known as “Band-tober.” Four Saturdays in a row will be spent performing. The Brahma Marching Band will end September with Band Fest, a carnival-style event for fun in the community, on the last Saturday in September. The following Saturday, Oct. 5, will have the band in Ganado for its first competition. On Oct. 12, the EBHS band members will participate in the Edna Cowboy Marching Band Invitational. All their effort will culminate at the UIL 3A marching evaluation in Ganado on Oct. 19.

This year’s band has 76 members, including six seniors who joined band as sixth graders. Students who are participants from junior high school on through high school are eligible for scholarships provided by the East Bernard Band Boosters. Although practice is difficult, he strives to make it enjoyable. 

“Kids are keeping it as fun as possible often concluding an afternoon of practice with water balloon fights,” Palermo said.

His main thrust is “RISE,” which is an acrostic for “Risk; Imagination: Skill: and Endurance,” and providing an energetic show with all original music. 

Each movement is a part of RISE, with movements so precise they almost appear to be an optical illusion. Imagination makes shapes like clouds. The skill portion includes a tuba/baritone duet with high energy marching. The endurance is the physical challenge of finishing for the long haul. Each movement is meant to portray a gamut of emotions because a marching band is a “living organism.”

Assistant band director is Rod Knaulls, who lives in Sealy, but hails from Whitehouse, near Tyler in East Texas. As the junior high school director, he helps Palermo to train students to become student leaders as early as sixth grade. 

Palermo, the new guy in town, is impressed with the outstanding work ethic in students and adults in East Bernard. 

“East Bernard is a caring community, giving a great experience everywhere,” Palermo said. “The community is willing to go out of the way to help each other.” Part of the proof is in the band boosters, who provided a new trailer for transporting instruments and their three-year-old uniforms to and from their engagements.  

Palermo, a graduate of Steven F. Austin University, and his wife Kaitlin Palermo, a family health care practitioner for MEHOP in Bay City, make their home in Needville, with their two dogs.

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