By Tamas Mondovics

Durant High School’s “Cougar Pride” instrumental music program had the opportunity this month to join a list of local bands to demonstrate their skills and talent during a special event.

On Wednesday, December 7, about three dozen of the more than 120-member band participated in a ceremony commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Led by band director Bruce Herrmann, the group joined a Pearl Harbor Mass Band of nearly 1,200 students from all over the United States and Japan to perform in Hawaii on Remembrance Day.

“I am thrilled that we have a chance to attend,” Hermann said during practice, just days before the event. “This extraordinary and historic event was offered to us by Music Celebrations International, which serves both an eye-opener, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Hermann added that event itself is a cultural exchange, which demonstrates in a truly remarkable manner how cultures once opposed can work together through the gift of music.

To prepare for the trip, which school officials said cost nearly $3,000 per student, the Durant Music Boosters, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, has reached out to corporations, local businesses, and private individuals to provide financial assistance to its students in the form of sponsorships or donations.

While hoping to take the entire band, Hermann was proud to take a much smaller, but excited group, whom he said have been working hard to take part in the memorable event.

School color guards, Kadien Harwood, 17, Morgan Crampton 15 and Emily Orland, 16, were also looking forward to attend for a number of reasons.

“It is a great opportunity to reflect on this historic event as well as to see others learn and participate,” Harwood said.

Durant High School’s “Cougar Pride” Marching Band and Instrumental Music Programs have achieved numerous personal and ensemble awards from their hard work and commitment to excellence.

The Durant High School Instrumental Music program has represented the State of Florida at several local and national events over the last 19 years. This past spring, the music program ventured to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to perform in the Smoky Mountain Music Festival.

Herrmann was appointed Director of Instrumental Music at Durant High School in June 2014. He and his wife, Jamie, currently reside in Brandon. He is assisted by Dennis Laorenza, (Music), Derek Budzinski and Chelsea Tortora, (Visual/Music), Jeremy Vest, (Percussion Director), Emily Macias, (Percussion Instructor), Andy Snow, (Color Guard Director) and Errica Snelling and Ethan Taylor, (Color Guard Instructor).

Interested donors to the Cougar Pride band can visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/DurantMusicBoosters.