Conway band seniors honored on 'Hat Night'

by Sonja J. Keith
Ted McClenning photos

Members of the Conway High School Band recently donned hats of all shapes and sizes as part of an annual tradition on senior night.

According to band director Tim Cunningham, the tradition dates back to the late 1980s when students wore masks to perform during a game on Halloween. “It gave the kids something fun to do,” he said.

Masks were replaced with silly hats that resemble something special or personal about the senior. “They’ll be anything and everything,” the band director said. “Some will be conservative and others more extravagant. They have fun with it.”

The student is responsible for their own hat, and some begin in the junior year making plans for their own, according to Cunningham.

During the last home football game, parents and invited guests are allowed on the track at the field to watch their senior’s last performance. After each senior is recognized, the student joins family on the track to get their hat before returning to the field for the last song.

“I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I suggested we not do it anymore,” Cunningham said. “They look forward to that night.”

This year’s senior night marked completion of a successful season for the Conway High band. In every competition, the band has placed first or received the highest marks possible. In the 2013 Showcase of Bands at War Memorial Stadium, the Conway band won numerous awards, including the highest honor, the Brandon Award, presented for the most musical performance in class AAAA/AAAAA.

“We’ve had a very good year,” Cunningham said. “This group has performed very well, and they are nice kids. I can’t say enough about them. They are very talented.”