MONTE VISTA—Monte Vista has a long and distinguished tradition with its marching band program. In recent years state cuts to K-12 education funding have resulted in band programs being eliminated in neighboring school districts. Fortunately, this has not been the case for the Monte Vista School District, not because hard budget decisions have not been an issue for the district, but because there is a recognition of the history of the program and the support this community and the district has had for the marching band through the years.
On Monday, Oct. 30 the high school marching band season culminated at the state marching band competition in Parker, Colo. for Colorado high school bands in classes 1A-4A. The Monte Vista High School (MVHS) marching band was one of six class 1A schools competing at this event.
This MVHS marching band earned a trip to this competition despite many challenges and disruptions to what is typically a very structured and rigorous schedule that begins in mid-July to prepare for the Ski Hi parade, followed by a full week of band camp the first week of August and multiple marching competitions leading up to the state competition, none of which happened this year due to the resignation of two band directors in the span of less than six months.
The adversity these students faced on their recent trip to state is almost comical in its entirety. This included a bus break down Sunday evening on I-25 in the Colorado Springs area. The band and their bus waited on the side of the highway for over two hours until a local school district was able to send a bus to pick up all the students and get them to their hotel for a hastily arranged 9 p.m. dinner by the monte Vista Band Boosters. This breakdown was not a total waste of time for these dedicated and industrious students, teachers and administrators. Instead of just sitting on the bus they practiced their marching program in a field along the highway exit.
The next day dawned with freezing drizzle and light snow. The Class 1A schools were the first to perform. The Colorado Bandmasters Association (CBA) made some unfortunate decisions which resulted in Class 1A schools playing their music but not being allowed to march for safety reasons (slipping and falling on icy astro-turf). Not only were MVHS students hampered by delivering a stationary performance instead of the intricate marching and general effect elements they had worked so hard to perfect, but the 24-degree cloudy, wet weather meant that half way through their three-song performance their instruments were freezing up due to ice—not to mention reduced mobility of cold fingers.
Normally, state band competitions include two performances (semifinals and finals) but CBA only allowed a single performance due to weather conditions. CBA allowed the other schools in classes 2A-4A to march, only the class 1A teams were restricted. On the return home Murphy’s Law continued to plague the journey and the trailer that hauls the band uniforms, drums and other instruments blew a tire between Pueblo and Walsenburg. In spite of all of these challenges the band returned home safely with a very respectable fourth place finish for class 1A Marching Band.
Special recognition for the success of this year’s band needs to be extended to: Justin Romero, math teacher at MVHS, for taking on band direction duties in the absence of a band director since early October and also his help with the band for many, many years; Principal Scott Wiedeman for taking on leadership roles in the absence of a director during preparation for the Ski Hi parade and during the state competition; drum majors Angelo Rodriguez and Matyson Jones for leadership in the face of adversity and in the absence of a band director; Samantha Cordero, color guard coach and the Band Boosters for all of their planning, and support and Academy School District in Colorado Springs for sending the rescue bus.
The citizens of Monte Vista have one more opportunity to see this special group of students march. The MVHS Band will march in the Monte Vista Veteran’s Day Parade at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10. Please come out to support and recognize the veterans but also to support and recognize an outstanding group of high school students who have faced many challenges.