MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) The stadium bleachers were quiet. Too quiet.
It was almost 6 a.m. and only a few students had showed up. This wasn't the Martinsville High School pep rally we were expecting.
"What happened?" WDBJ7's Katey Roshetko asked one of the five students sitting together in the bleachers.
"I don't know," she said. "Some of us knew to get here at 5:30, but maybe they thought it was 6:30 a.m.?"
"This might be a pep rally first... we don't have any students here. I really don't know what else to say except-"
"Just kidding!" The students yelled at the camera as it panned over to the other side of the bleachers.
There, more than 100 Martinsville Bulldogs erupted in cheers and screams. The band started to play and the cheerleaders clapped along.
Martinsville High School had arrived.
And this pep rally would be nothing without the band here getting everyone hyped. Earlier in the week, WDBJ7 checked out one of their rehearsals and spoke to students about their band experience and what it means to be part of the team.
At first there was only snapping. Then Amber Rountree started her countdown.
Then in perfect harmony the band started to play.
"What I love being a part of band is that I can just come here and it's a stress reliever," Rountree said. She's a senior and one of the band's drum majors.
"It's a place where I can come and just be myself," she added.
"It's just like a little family," fellow senior and drum major, Christian Kissee said. "I feel like, you know, you always have someone to talk to, someone to go to."
Eduardo Betanzo is a junior drum major.
"Band just in generally is just a place where, like Amber said, we can be ourselves," Betanzo smiled. "Like truly, just have so much support and just have so much fun."
"The fun that we have is like... there's bands," Rountree said gesturing to her lower hand. "And then there's us." She waved her other hand above her head.
WDBJ7 asked Betanzo to describe what the atmosphere is like at Martinsville football games.
"The hypeness is just like, so bright," he said. "I don't know how to describe it. It's just really bright. "
"So tell me then, what would a football game be without you guys?" We asked Kissee.
"Boring," he laughed.
"Like all of the kids said, we are a family," band director Brian Joyce said. "I spend a lot of time with them and they spend a lot of time with me. They're pretty much like my own kids."
"It's matured me. It's taught me patience. It's taught me leadership skills," Rountree explained. "It's taught me self-criticism and criticism from like leaders and like authority."
"It teaches you everything honestly," Kissee added. "You're dealing with different people with different age groups. You're dealing with like instruction. So you're just learning life skills when you join a club like band."
"It really kind of prepares you for the job world," Joyce said. "You get to interact with others. You've got to work together as a team to accomplish a common goal. You've got to think critically and creatively, things that in the 21st century, if I was hiring somebody, I'd hire a band student because they meet all those needs."
Speaking of careers after high school, there two student organizations that are preparing students to enter the health profession.
For the last 15 years at Martinsville High School, Ms. Marie Stone has been the health and medical sciences instructor who has led a club for students interested in the medical profession
"HOSA Future Health Professionals is a career and technical student organization for students interested in a health career," Stone said.
Ethan Thomas is one such student who always knew he wanted to go into the medical field, until...
"I learned the whole blood, seeing the organs thing wasn't for me," Thomas laughed. "So I chose physical [therapy] because I'm still helping people, I'm still communicating with people, and it's a great way for me to still be in the medical field."
However, he's only a junior and says his eyes are still being opened to all the possibilities that field has to offer through another organization called Health Professions Enrichment Program or HPEP.
"I'm actually getting to learn from actual professionals," Thomas explained. "I'm getting to hear from them. I'm getting to hear their stories, how they got there, their problems."
Thomas and 37 of his classmates spend time at the local hospitals learning various aspects of the job.
"I have never thought about radiology," he said. "But when we got to tour it, I got to see a CT scan, how they do it and everything, a portable x-ray machine. I was like, 'Wow! This is something I could see myself doing.'"
But for now, he'll stick to paying attention in the classroom, knowing without HOSA and HPEP, he wouldn't be prepared for life after graduation.
"I would be completely stuck," Thomas said. "I wouldn't know what steps to take, what I need to learn, the ways to do it, it's really opened my mind to how to do those things."
Martinsville High School takes on Patrick Henry High School Friday night at 7 p.m.
New week on WDBJ7's FFE Mornin' Pep Rally, the crew is going to Narrows High School.
Watch WDBJ7 Mornin' from 6-7 a.m. for all the action!
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