Practicing under the hot summer sun for hours every week, Dawson County High's marching band is dedicated to generating school spirit.
"Marching band helps us reach out to the community to show that we care about our county," said Brice Darnell, senior drumline member. "We can give them a good time and show them we care."
The band's Elvis Presley-themed show this year features a medley of the King of Rock ‘n' Roll's songs, including "I Can't Help Falling in Love," "Hound Dog," "Jailhouse Rock" and "Burning Love."
Director Ryan Zwemke, in his first year leading the band, said he wanted to pick a theme of "general interest, not just to the kids but to the community."
"I wanted to pick something that people would recognize, get behind and be able to identify with," he said. "People know what a showman Elvis was and the music quality is great. He had thrilling, energizing music, so I thought that fit really well with marching band."
The show boasts more than 50 students playing various instruments, creating on-field formations and performing in the colorguard.
Students begin learning the year's show during a two-week camp in early August.
While the goal is to present a musically entertaining halftime show and energize football fans, Zwemke said the band also teaches students how to balance physical, emotional and mental demands.
"Marching band is very complex," he said. "It is musical, which affects emotion. It is physical, so it affects body posture. Plus it's also mental.
"[Students] know exactly where they fit into the whole. As far as brain activity, it has so many complexities."
Junior tuba player Doug O'Brien, 16, said marching band has also taught him discipline and the value of teamwork.
"We learned the show a lot quicker this year than past years ... It has provided me a lot of discipline," he said.
Zwemke, who has been teaching music for more than 14 years, remembers when he did marching band as a student at Brookwood High School in Snellville.
"I remember the afternoon rehearsals, the games," he said. "It is a lot of great memories."
Darnell has been marching since his freshman year, first as a xylophone player in the front percussion and now on the snare drum in the drumline. He said the band creates a close-knit community.
"I enjoy going to the games every Friday night, being with my friends and having a good time. Marching band always has a festive mood," he said.
The band has learned half of its show, Zwemke said. In the coming weeks, it will learn the final field drills and song selections.
The band will perform the ever-evolving show at every Friday football game throughout the Tigers' season.
Zwemke said the band will be competing in an October invitational at Chestatee High School.