The annual Los Angeles Unified School District Band & Drill Team Championships featured more than 2,000 students representing 30 high schools for a daylong showcase of the marching arts from the drumline to the brass and color guard. | PHOTOS
The more than four decade-long tradition was hosted at East Los Angeles College's football field Saturday.
"This is the highlight of the year for all bands in LAUSD. The is a culmination of our year," said Arleta High School band director Andrew Sollars.
"It's always a treat to perform in front of everybody, but it's great seeing the other bands. There's a lot of camaraderie at these events."
The Arleta High School Mustang Marching Band and Dance Team - 33 band and 23 dance members - performed a Willy Wonka-themed set, full with dance members dressed as Oompa loompas.
"It's not as easy as it looks," said 17-year-old Norma Quijano, the drum major for the school marching band. You've got to give it your all, but in the end it is so worth it."
Norma, a senior at Arleta High School, called the band's Saturday bittersweet.
"Freshman year I started out so careless, but over the years I've gotten more and more dedicated so this is very emotional for me," she said of her last performance at the annual event.
Norma said while she plans to major in environmental policy in college, she wants to continue to participate in the drum corps.
And like Norma, district performing arts coordinator Tony White said half of the students who participate in the marching arts program pursue a career in music or the arts.
"With this program we're able to take these many kids and connect them to a positive activity that allows them to challenge themselves, learn teamwork," White said. "And we know that when kids are participating in this program they're out of harm's way."
Martha Cardiel of Mission Hills was with her family to watch her daughter, Veronica, perform with the San Fernando High School Tiger Marching Band and Color Guard. The 17-year-old senior has been a member of the color guard for the last two years.
"It's a great program because it teaches the kids how to be responsible; it teaches them discipline," Cardiel said. "I'm so proud of her. She really puts all she's got into it and it's great as a parent to see."
Cardiel added that it's been a great influence on Veronica's younger brothers. Thirteen-year-old Carlos, for instance, is already a percussionist for his school.
Top teams in each division that performed Saturday were awarded trophies, with one team earning a championship banner to display for the following school year, White said.
"When I hear about schools not having these programs, it's devastating," White said. "Music, dance and the arts may not be for everybody; however, let's let them determine that."