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Star Spencer High marching band keeps crowd in the game

High-stepping performers in the Star Spencer High School marching band have a following that includes the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team. The school band is the only one in the state to have performed four times at the NBA team's games.
by Tim Willert Modified: September 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm •  Published: September 11, 2013

Band members rarely sit still. They play continuously, except when the Bobcats are on offense.

“That's part of having home-field advantage when you have a large band, to distract the other team,” Purvey said, smiling.

The band's popularity extends beyond the football field.

In each of the last four years, members performed during halftime of an Oklahoma City Thunder regular-season game. They are the only high school team in the state to have done so, officials said.

“They're kind of a crowd favorite,” said Karina Henderson, the team's corporate communications manager. “That's why we keep bringing them back.”

Many current and former band members began playing musical instruments at nearby Rogers Middle School, where Purvey previously taught.

The current edition is an eclectic mix of personalities and styles who say they feel accepted by their band mates.

“I can be myself,” said Emebrlee Crawford, 17, a senior. “I'm very weird.”

Baritone horn player Chris Braxton, a 17-year-old senior, has a '70s-style Afro that is mostly hidden under his headgear during performances.

“Everybody in the band is different,” Crawford said.

“That's what makes it work.”

Purvey pushes his students to excel and is considered a father figure.

“I teach them more than band,” he said. I teach them life.”

At Star Spencer, band is considered a sport because of the physical demands.

“If it gets too hard they just quit and join the football team,” Gabriel joked.

The band is back in action Friday when the football team hosts Southeast High School at 7 p.m.

by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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