BY SUSANA MARTINEZ
For band director Yvonne Moreno, Holtville High School’s Band of Pride has been around for as long as she can remember. For roughly 50 years, the high school’s marching band has been a source of musical pride for Holtville. When the band performs at events they not only showcase the talent of their students, but also the musicality that Holtville has to offer.
A former band member herself, Moreno recalls a time when being a member of the band was something that was wildly popular within the ranks of the school. Being a member was a badge of honor. Students who participated weren’t derogatorily referred to as “band geeks” but rather they were seen as scholars and leaders. The ability to read music and perform in front of large crowds made for well rounded students.
The band functions as both a marching band and concert band, meaning it performs outside in parades and on football fields, and also indoors. The Band of Pride has always been rather small. Currently there are 41 playing members, 62 students total when counting the girls who carry flags and shields. Yet their small size does not hinder the band’s abilities as a group. Their most recent performance at a Borrego Springs competition parade was met with success. The band walked away with first place trophies, including “Crowd Favorite.” Moreno says that the band always does well at competitions, earning nothing less than 1st during her time as director.
The success of the band is attributed to how hard the members work. Aside from everyday band class, members also attend an after school practice on Tuesdays that lasts from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
They also are required to attend “zero period”, time set aside during Thursday morning in order to squeeze in more practice time. This occurs well before school starts. The work is so rigorous that two years of band participation counts for one year of P.E.
The band is hard work and dedication is all for good reason. Throughout the year the band is given many opportunities to showcase its talents to crowds of all sizes. Just a few of their performances include the halftime show during annual Axe Game that pits the football teams of Holtville and Calipatria against each other, as well as a yearly halftime festival where all the high school marching bands in the Valley meet at Central Union High School to perform their half time shows for their peers.
During concert season, the band performs at a Band and Orchestra Festival, which will currently be hosted at Southwest High School. There bands perform in front of a panel of Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association judges who provide feedback on their performance.
This fall the band will be performing at Holtville High’s homecoming game, the halftime festival at Central High and the Brawley Cattle Call. The band will also return to Borrego Springs on October 21st. It’s a lot of work, but the students are hardly daunted.
When Moreno took the job last year, the students were supportive and willing to help her make her rapid transition a little smoother. A majority of the band consists of underclassmen but, as Moreno puts it, “They’re good workers with good hearts.” These students, with their dedication and joy in music, will surely bring the band new levels of success in the years ahead.