SISD Marchfest brings out the best in students
Ricky J. Carrasco
The first high school band competition of the school year, the SISD Marchfest, happened over the weekend. More than 20 schools from the El Paso area and Southern New Mexico competed in the Socorro ISD Special Activities Center this past Saturday. Braving the early fall sun, hundreds of students and parents enjoyed hours of great music and skilled marching. This competition is the first opportunity to show off the many hours, days, and nights of preparation that started late in the summer. If you live near a local high school, no doubt that you have heard the early morning to late afternoon practices as the students work through their complicated routines. In the end, everybody who participated agreed it was worth it.
Marchfest began at 11 a.m. with smaller schools like Clint and Mountain View and progressed through the larger schools like Americas and Montwood. Each school is on a very tight schedule with five minutes to set up and ten minutes to perform their selection. The music selection is varied from various genres of music represented. Excerpts from The Beatles, Johann Sebastian Bach, and even music from the movies “Powder” and “Signs” were heard. Each band also uses a Flag corps to accentuate their performances. The band is graded on everything from sound quality, movements, and overall effectiveness. If you have attended a high school football game lately and heard the half-time shows, you should attended a band competition like Marchfest since the students understand each detail of the performance will be scrutinized.
Many parents support their band and flag corps students because various positive character traits are being reinforced. Rose Bencomo-Luna, whose daughter, Rose Marie, is the senior Flag Corps captain at El Dorado High School, states that being part of the marching band competition has helped her daughter. “She shows more responsibility than she did before she joined. She knows she has to make the grades first in order to participate. She knows she needs get everything ready for school, for the games, and for competition. Often it’s her that pushes me out the door to get to practice.” The long practices often start at daybreak and sometimes go on into the night. Rose Marie, in her fourth year as part of the flag corps, describes part of the reason she enjoys tournaments like this, “It’s a commitment, the time and all the practice. It’s worth it to know that the hard work will pay out if we can get a division one (a first place ranking) at a competition.”
Parents love the good work ethic that participating in band encourages. Gabby Nicklis, whose son Michael is a sophomore flute player at El Dorado sees the joy in her son. “Michael really enjoys being in band a lot. It takes discipline, but he’s worked hard to make the marching band this year. My proudest moment was when he entered the stadium in his uniform as part of the band. I knew this is something he wanted and he worked hard to make it.” Maria Melendez from Las Cruces agrees. The self-described “proud Mama” says being in band has helped out her son, Carlos Jr, a sophomore baritone player from Onate High. “It keeps him out of trouble, entertained and in line.”
In the end, ten schools made the finals cut including three SISD schools: Americas, El Dorado, Socorro, Alamogordo, Hanks, Las Cruces, Onate, Del Valle, Coronado, Mountain View. Coronado eventually placed first. If your favorite school or band did not win this weekend, not to worry! There will many more band competitions throughout the year and each one will be different. “I love the creative process,” says Jason Lauturner, band director at Riverside High School. “Teaching band involves always changing, always improving and never being done. There is always something that can be changed and improved.”