Hays High graduate marches on
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
HUTCHINSON -- It was happenstance Rachel Palmberg got started in band, signing up for a class that fit into her schedule her sophomore year in high school.
It was not coincidence that got her a teaching position with the Kansas State University marching band.
Palmberg, a 2011 graduate of Hays High School, is a junior at KSU, where this year she has been chosen as principal instructor for music for the clarinet section of the Wildcat marching band.
Palmberg joined approximately 50 fellow band members at a pep rally on K-State Day at the Kansas State Fair on Sunday in a performance during what promises to be a busy year.
In addition to her teaching duties, Palmberg learned last week she also had been selected as principal clarinetist for the K-State wind symphony, the university's second top band.
It's not been a path Palmberg saw herself taking a few years ago.
For starters, she thought she might be staying close to home and attending Fort Hays State University, where both her mom and dad went to college.
But, Palmberg said, "Both my older siblings went to K-State. I love Fort Hays, but I was raised purple."
And she got a later start in band than some.
"I didn't start band in sixth grade like most kids," said Palmberg, who played violin in orchestra since fourth grade.
While looking for a class to fill a hole in her schedule her sophomore year at Hays High, Palmberg talked to HHS band director Craig Manteuffel about taking band class.
"I knew I was going to be a music education major (in college)," Palmberg said. "I needed a schedule filler, and I had some friends who played in the band. So I talked to (Manteuffel) and he said, 'We need a clarinet player.' "
So Palmberg played in the orchestra and band at Hays High, preparing her for a full schedule in college.
She now is one of a record 402-member marching band at KSU this year that includes the color guard, dance line and twirlers.
"I figured it would be a handful," she said. "But I had all summer to prepare. Then I found out about a week ago about the wind symphony."
Palmberg knows it will be a busy year but also thinks it will be good experience in preparation for her career as a music teacher.
So, too, does her band instructor.
"It's a lot of responsibility and a lot of hard work," said Frank Tracz, director of K-State marching bands. "But Rachel's one of those folks who stays busy, and busy people are successful people."