2006-01-05 / Front Page
CVUSD high school bands have a fantastic year
The three high school marching bands in Conejo Valley Unified School District had an award-winning performance season in 2005. Foremost among them is the Newbury Park High School Panther marching band and color guard, which won the Western Band Association (WBA) 2005 Championship last month at Lakewood High School in Lakewood.
The group bested 25 other 30to-60-member bands from across the state. This was the second time in three years the group brought home the state trophy. Last year they placed third in the competition.
During the performance season, which runs from August through December, the Newbury Park group placed first in all five competitions they entered. Bill Garcia, who’s directed the band for four years, credits the win to the students’ hard work.
“They really pushed themselves and allowed us (directors) to push them,” Garcia said.
Lauren Doliveria and Scott Oatley, both seniors and this year’s drum majors, credited the staff’s enthusiasm for building excitement among the students.
“It kind of made a big difference,” Lauren said.
“There’s a lot more interest in the performance,” Scott added. “It was a lot of fun for me to perform.”
Bucking tradition, the group wore costumes that coordinated with their Japanese-inspired composition instead of band uniforms.
“It was kind of a risk because we’d never done that before,” Garcia said. “But it paid off in the end.”
The district’s three high school bands compete in different divisions—which generally are organized by band size—so they usually don’t compete against one another. The Newbury Park band is the smallest, with about 50 members.
At 156 members, Thousand Oaks High School Lancer Marching Band is the largest. The group was the only one of the three to advance to the Bands of America Grand Nationals Championship held last fall in Indianapolis. They brought home the Esprit de Corps award.
This award is given out once a year to the group that best demonstrates pride, spirit, unity and enthusiasm. The TOHS Band was selected out of 90 other high school bands from 25 states to receive the award.
“It was just tremendous,” said Marty Martone, who’s directed the band for six years. “We were thrilled, excited and completely surprised to win that award.”
Ian Ormiston is a junior who recently moved to the area and was reluctant to join the band.
“When I came here I liked it,” he said. “And going to the nationals was like putting a cherry on top. I loved it.”
At the Southern California School Bands and Orchestra Association (SBOA) competition held earlier in December, the band took the Sweepstakes award, given to the best performing group across all divisions.
“We’re on track to do everything we want to do,” Martone said. “I think it’s our best-playing band.”
The 134-member Westlake High School Regiment marching band took fourth place at the same competition and ninth at the WBA championship. Kyle Luck has directed the instrumental music program at WHS for eight years. He said the band has grown in popularity among students.
“It’s cool now. I can’t explain it,” Luck said.
Three-year band member Sharon Lee agreed that perceptions have changed. “(Students) have a lot more respect for what we do,” she said.
The group was honored earlier this year when they were one of two high school bands invited to perform at the prestigious All State Honor Band Conference.
In addition, WHS is the only school in Ventura County to have a full symphony orchestra. The orchestra, formed last year, has 70 members.