During halftime of tonight's football game between the University of Connecticut and the University of Central Florida, UConn’s marching band will pay special tribute to a student killed in the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Alex Schachter, 14, had plans to apply to UConn and play trombone in the marching band.
After learning of Schachter's interest in UConn - his parents say he wore a UConn shirt every day to school - the university sent a posthumous letter of admission to Alex's family, and set up a band scholarship in his name.
Schachter’s death had an impact on UConn’s pep band, who earlier this year wore tags bearing Alex’s name. Over the summer, members of the marching band expressed an interest in remembering Alex in their own way.
“His future is wiped out,” said David Mills, UConn's director of bands. “What every individual brings to a band is important, and to think about the future that he would have had, what he would have brought to a band, is what we decided to mourn.”
The marching band had heard about a project called “Play it for Parkland,” where marching bands across the country were asked to perform and record Alex Schachter’s favorite song - Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4." Mills said the band members loved the idea.
Luckily, “25 or 6 to 4” is in the repertoire of UConn’s pep band, so learning the music was the easy part. The band, however wanted to take the extra step of spelling his name on the field at the halftime show. That was a bit trickier, given some 35 new members of the UConn Marching Band had never been in a marching band before. Mills said organizing this tribute with just a few days to practice was no small feat.
“We had the new members for two days over the weekend, and on Monday we had everybody in and we had to throw all of this together. The kids go from 9 in the morning to 8:30 at night. It's hard. For some of these kids, it's the hardest thing they've ever done.”
Alex Schachter's family will attend tonight's game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.