North Pulaski students headed to BCS game

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published December 27, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated December 27, 2012 at 1:20 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Nathan Crews, left, and Brandon Beard will be playing with the BCS All Star Invitational Marching Band, which will play before and during halftime of the BCS National Championship game. Crews and Beard both play snare drum for the North Pulaski High School Marching Falcons.

— In a few weeks, Brandan Beard and Nathan Crews will take the field in Miami for the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

They won’t be wearing helmets. They’ll be wearing snare drums.

The North Pulaski High School students, who have known each other since second grade, are headed to Florida as part of the BCS All Star Invitational Marching Band. The group, comprising high school band members from across the country, is scheduled to perform a routine at pregame and halftime as Notre Dame plays Alabama on Jan. 7. Yes, that halftime show. The one in front of 80,000 fans and broadcast live on ESPN. What’s the worst that could happen?

“I’ll just try not to fall,” Crews said.

Crews, 18, has been playing percussion since his beginning band classes in sixth grade. He first joined because his older brother had been in band. His parents and his band director, Karen Dismuke, pushed him to continue, and it’s paid off.

This was the first year Dismuke nominated students for the BCS band. She nominated a handful of her students to be part of the group, and Beard and Crews eagerly completed the application process. When they received the big white envelopes announcing their selection, Crews thought immediately of the beach. Heading to Miami in January isn’t a bad way to start the final semester of his senior year.

Beard and Crews will leave for Miami on Jan. 3, giving them just a few days to practice the marching routine and music with the full group. It’ll be a busy few days, but there should be time to soak up some sun.

“I’m really looking forward to the weather,” Beard said. “I don’t like the cold.”

Beard and Crews got the music they’ll be performing at the game a little more than a month ago. Part of the routine includes a version of “Conga” by Miami Sound Machine, and Beard said he’s heard the band will be joining the marching band for the performance.

Though having their performance seen live on ESPN will be a highlight for both boys this year, Crews’ top moment with the NPHS band took place earlier this year.

“My proudest moment this year was probably holding up the first-place trophy the band earned in Jonesboro at the Arkansas Open,” Crews said.

The NPHS band has a long tradition of being a top program, and Dismuke said she nominated Beard and Crews not only for their talent, but for their work ethic.

“They’re good guys and will represent our program very well,” Dismuke said.

Come fall, both boys plan to continue playing in college. Crews plans to attend the University of Central Arkansas to study criminal justice, while Beard will pursue a degree in business management at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro.

After years of long bus rides, hours of rehearsal and countless classes with their fellow band members, Crews said it’s the people he’ll miss the most once he leaves NPHS. The drumline had only eight members, including Beard and Crews.

“It was really a family,” Beard said.

Including airfare, being part of the BCS All Star Band program will cost Beard and Crews around $2,400 each. The NPHS band has been asking for donations and participating in a few fundraisers to help with costs.

Donations to help Beard and Crews cover the cost of being part of the All Star Band can be sent to BCS All Star Band, 718 Harris Road, Jacksonville, AR 72076.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or

Associate Features Editor Emily Van Zandt can be reached at .