LAHS band wins big at tournament

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By Kirsten Laskey

It isn’t easy being a part of the Los Alamos Marching Band. It requires a lot of work. The last two weeks of summer vacation are filled with practices. Students give up time after school to practice, in addition to the regularly scheduled band classes. It’s not just learning music either, it is learning drills as well

When the marching band makes a public appearance, it is not only on the local football field to entertain the crowd during a home game; but also competitions. In October alone the marching band traveled throughout New Mexico to compete in three different competitions.

This large amount of work is enough to make you want to throw in the towel, but the LAHS marching band didn’t back down from the challenges and their determination paid off.

In October, the marching band took home 13 trophies from the three competitions it was involved in and 22 students made the district honor band, along with 18 from Los Alamos Middle School.

At the Tournament of the Bands held Oct. 25 in Las Cruces, the marching band earned every top award in their class, which was class B. These awards included outstanding visual, outstanding music and outstanding general effect.

Additionally, the band was invited to march in an exhibition later that day.

During Tournament of the Band, Los Alamos High School competed against about 30 bands from Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

Charles Faulkner, band director, credited the bands’ leadership for having such a successful year.

“We had last year and this year extremely good leadership in the band,” he said. “The kids learn real fast and work hard.”

The stakes were high for LAHS; Faulkner said unlike most schools, LAHS operates on an A/B block schedule, which means the band can only rehearse every other day. Most bands meet every day.

“The kids just do a great job with the time they have,” he said.

Another obstacle to over come was the weather. During the Zia Marching Fiesta Oct. 11 in Albuquerque, there were 53 mph winds and a tornado warning. But as Faulkner said, when the band gets dealt with lemons, they make lemonade. For instance, at Zia Marching Fiesta, the band earned third place in their class.

It helps to deal with the challenges when there is a lot of support, he said.

The parents, the band booster club provides support and assistance and Bill Austell and Dan Kinsmen of Las Lunas volunteer Monday nights to help with drill rehearsals.

Faulkner said the booster club takes a lot of work off his pile. The qualities of the marching band that make it successful, said Linda Morgan, secretary of the band booster club, includes “their spirit and Charles Faulkner and Bill Austell. Both Charles and Bill are terrific at teaching them the drills and supporting them. They are a dynamic team. Then, of course, there are the parents.”

Although she has only been a part of the booster club for two years, Morgan said its members are very dedicated and involved. Booster members do everything from loading instruments into cars to supplying food and handling public relations work.

While band and its booster club give each other support, the band also needs assistance from the community.

Last year, the expenses for the band totaled $18,000, money that is not covered by the school district.

To handle the costs this year, poinsettias are being sold. Look for the holiday plants during the Los Alamos Arts Council’s Arts and Crafts Fair Nov. 22 at the middle school. Morgan said the band is worthy of the community’s support because “This is their self-expression. Their way of being out there and doing something on a team level.” Even after their success, the work continues for the band. This month, all-state tryouts will be held and the honor band will rehearse Nov. 14-15 and perform a concert Nov. 15 in Santa Fe.