Students in local drumline prove they are the "new kings on the - CBS46 News

Students in local drumline prove they are the "new kings on the block" performing during Atlanta Falcons game

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(Source: Corey Lowe/Martin Luther King Jr. High School) (Source: Corey Lowe/Martin Luther King Jr. High School)
Drum Major Stanthony Goosleby (Source: Angelina T. Velasquez/WGCL) Drum Major Stanthony Goosleby (Source: Angelina T. Velasquez/WGCL)
Section Leader Deante Hillman (Source: Angelina T. Velasquez/WGCL) Section Leader Deante Hillman (Source: Angelina T. Velasquez/WGCL)
Section Leader Roderick Jackson (Source: Angelina T. Velasquez/WGCL) Section Leader Roderick Jackson (Source: Angelina T. Velasquez/WGCL)

Today the Atlanta Falcons are taking on the Dallas Cowboys at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which is a big deal for many fans around the city, but for one DeKalb County High School it’s another day of making history.

This season the drumline at Martin Luther King Jr. High School was named the official drumline to perform during halftime at home games for the “Dirty Birds.”

“We got the call back in March and they told us they had an exciting opportunity for us,” says Band Director Travis Kimber.

He has been the director since the school opened in 2001, and says the opportunity is one of his proudest accomplishments.

“I thought it was a joke at first because I knew they had an existing drumline in place, but they said they wanted to go in a different direction, a new and more exciting direction.”

The 40-member drumline has taken the field three times.

Each time it is with a fiery intensity just like the first time.

“Oh man, every time we go out it’s like the first time. You would think it would get a little old because they’re long days, but every time we go down it’s like the first time.”

Kimber says his relationship with the Falcons organization dates back to 2015, it’s when the school’s 225-member band was first asked to perform during a breast cancer awareness halftime show.

The band was then asked to come back in 2016 to participate in a military tribute.

“I guess it was kind of a build up to this point.”

For Stanthony Goosleby having this experience his senior year has been unmatched.

“Honestly it means everything,” says the drum major. “It’s breathtaking. It’s like a once in a lifetime experience, so we’re just taking it all in and doing what we can, making the most out of it.”

Fellow senior Deante Hillman echoes those feelings “words can’t explain.”

“This section has been through a lot and had a lot of bad years, bad practices, but it’s really nice to see the section come together and have an accomplishment this big,” says Hillman.

The band, which is comprised of students ranging from freshmen to seniors, practices for nearly three hours on average four times a week.

With academic responsibilities, practice, football game performances and competitions, the students have a full schedule.

Yet, Kimber says the students fell into an effortless rhythm – somewhat like the melodies they boldly play—  and have managed to handle it well.

“It’s a lot, but everything sort of fell in place. We were fortunate that we did not have to cancel any performances or make any other schedule adjustments. It all just worked out.”

With all of the excitement and responsibilities the students have, it is sometimes necessary for Percussion Instructor and Assistant Band Director Corey Lowe to remind students that being a part of the drumline is a privilege.

For him, performances are great, but perfect practice is necessary.

His method is tough love.

In the moments a student falls out of line he doesn’t hesitate to have them do 75 pushups before rejoining the drumline.

But as he stands at the top of the stairs leading to the school’s field to watch the band practice, he has a glare of pride in his eyes.

“It’s just great to see the hard work, the dedication, the blood, sweat and tears that they’ve put into it,” says Lowe. “It all comes together and provides the opportunities that they see today.”

The opportunity is not only one to represent their school, to stand on the turf of professional football players, or even to perform for more than 60,000 Falcons’ fans.

“It’s a great opportunity to represent the city,” says Sophomore Roderick Jackson.

Last year the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl – for the first time since 1998 when they played the Denver Broncos – and this year they are playing in a brand new nearly $1.6 billion stadium.

In some ways the sequence of events may mark a change of times for Atlanta.

It certainly is for Kimber who acknowledges that other DeKalb County Schools have enjoyed notoriety for years, but MLK's time is now.

With a wide smile and chuckle he says “I think we’re the new kings on the block now.”

The next time the MLK High School drumline will take the field is Nov. 26 when the Falcons go up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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