Hitting the right note: Priceville High band inspires clean-up initiative at football games
By Catherine Godbey
For the Enquirer
As the football players filed inside the locker rooms after the three-hour high school game, the parents, students and fans of the visiting team got to work picking up cups, plates and food containers littering the stadium. Ten minutes later, the stands at Fairview High School in Cullman were spotless.
The work by the Priceville High School contingent did not go unnoticed.
On Aug. 26 at 10:34 p.m., Fairview High School posted on Facebook: “A HUGE shoutout to Priceville High School and their fans. Thanks for cleaning up your side after the game. A classy demonstration of how it’s supposed to be done.”
The comment was liked and loved more than 13,000 times and shared more than 1,500 times, including by meteorologist James Spann.
“Fairview was the first game where there wasn’t a piece of trash left in the stands when we left,” said Joey Chittam, the father of two Priceville High band students and a member of the band boosters. “As I was about to leave with the band trailer, the Fairview principal came over and said he missed our administration, but wanted to make sure they knew that he looked over there and our stands were spotless.”
The post-game clean-up initiative began at the beginning of the season with the band.
Before leaving the stands, whether at home or away, director Temon Brown requires students to clean their section.
“At the end of each game I make announcements about the upcoming week and compliment them on their performance of the halftime show. At the end of my announcements, I remind the students to pick up after themselves and to make it look like ‘we were never there.’ It’s a motto I picked up from my time at the University of North Alabama,” said Brown, who became Priceville High’s band director in the spring of 2022.
Other Priceville fans took notice of the effort.
“That idea of everyone cleaning behind themselves permeated. Little by little, it caught on with more people attempting to clean up,” Chittam said. “A lot of parents started cleaning up behind themselves and getting after the student section to make sure they cleaned up behind themselves. It’s working. More and more people are buying into this.”
Brown realized the band’s extended impact after the game with Fairview.
“The entire visiting side was cleaned before we departed for Priceville,” Brown said. “I believe the Fairview game was where it started to become a part of the ‘Priceville Way.’”
Responsibility for cleaning the stands rests with the parent volunteers. Before this year, cleaning up took the volunteers 45 minutes or more. Now, with parents, students and fans helping out, cleanup takes 10 minutes.
“When the stands are already picked up, all we have to do is pull the trash bags and pick up around the cans if the trash is overflowing. That’s a whole lot easier than walking the stands cleaning up after everyone,” Chittam said. “Normally, 10 parents are on cleanup at our home games. They said they might be able to reduce that number to six if this keeps up.”
For Brown, the simple act of cleaning up is a way to teach the students about responsibility, respect and pride.
“The main thing that I believe the students have learned from this experience is to take pride in our facilities here at Priceville. I also believe the students have learned to show their respect for other schools’ facilities as well. This will also teach the students humility in life,” Brown said. “I would love for this to be a tradition that is passed along to the future students of Priceville High School.”
Along with varsity games, fans also embraced the cleanup initiative at junior varsity games.
“It may not seem like a lot, but it is a small way that we can help,” Chittam said. “The students are really behind this. We certainly hope it sticks and spreads and inspires other schools in the area.”