The Palisades Charter High School marching band made school history during the last two weeks.
After winning a program-record seven trophies on Nov. 16 at the highly regarded Savanna Tournament in Anaheim, the marching band won a Division 3A silver medal on Saturday at the regional championships at Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego.
The large tournament at Savanna High School was a major test to see how far the band had grown. PaliHi won trophies for high visual effect, high music effect, high visual performance, high music performance, 1st place auxiliary and 2nd place percussion. They also won the band sweepstakes for the top overall score for all groups in their division.
“I don’t think the students had ever heard their names called that many times during the awards ceremony, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t expecting it,” band director Arwen Hernandez said.
Based on their scores in the final four tournaments of the year, PaliHi qualified for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association championships. They have qualified for championships all three times they attempted it, but they had never finished higher than 10th.
This year, they entered the championships ranked third in Division 3A. In the week prior to championships, the band rehearsed in the rain while trying to take care of their instruments. Hernandez said they were working hard to clean up any mistakes and make sure they gave their best possible performance.
“We’ve continued to refine. We’ve added some more visual effects and tried to clean up some of our music ensemble,” she said.
Hernandez believes this year’s success is partly due to having consistency by staying at the Division 3A level for two years.
“It was very helpful to remain in the same division for more than one year,” Hernandez said. “It gave us a chance to understand the division better and figure out how to design for competition.”
Since Hernandez arrived at PaliHi six years ago, the band has grown in size and moved up from 1A to 2A and now 3A. Since Paul Revere Middle School provides their only consistent feeder program, Hernandez said there are no plans to move up another division.
“With only one feeder, 3A is a really good place to be,” she said.
This year’s band set included a sampling of French classics, including La Vie En Rose, Overture from “Orpheus in the Underworld,” The Swan from “The Carnival of Animals,” and Farandole.
Hernandez praised the effort of her students. They rehearse about 10 hours a week, and Hernandez said their attendance and grades have been fantastic.
“They feel that they’re part of a team and a family, and they do what they have to do in order to not let down the person next to them,” Hernandez said. “It’s really inspirational to work with them.”
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