Amador’s Marching Band and Color Guard Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

Alexis Waiss, Staff Writer

The Marching Band and Color Guard was born in the 1928-29 school year, only a few years after Amador Valley High opened.  Ever since then, it has grown and earned a reputation for excellence. On May 11th during their annual Pancake Breakfast, the band and color guard will celebrate its 90th Anniversary.

For almost a century, the Marching Band and Color Guard has had a momentous impact on Amador’s campus.

“People that are involved in the program think they’re involved in something that’s a lot bigger than them just themselves.  Not just because there’s, you know, hundreds of other people that are involved in it this year, but ‘cause it’s something that’s connected to people over the course of decades.  And we have parents that come back who were in the band and now have kids in the band. So there’s something that’s just really really big that I don’t think any of us could really wrap our heads around because of the impact on so many people over so much time,” said Mr. Dandrea, Amador’s assistant band director

Throughout the years, the band and colorguard have achieved a legacy full of accomplishment.

“There are so many moments in the history of the program of my time here that have been pivotal.  We’ve performed across the globe, we’ve performed around the country, we’ve performed for thousands of people.  We did the SuperBowl and performed at Halftime with Beyoncé, we performed at the Chicago Midwest Clinic in front of thousands of music teachers from all over the world, we’ve graced the stage at Carnegie Hall,” said Mr. Grantham, Amador’s band director.

While band and color guard members appreciate the opportunities they’ve had and feats they have made, they are especially proud to represent Amador Valley High.

“If there was anything I wanted the non-band students on campus to know, is how proud we are to wear the name ‘Amador Valley’ when we go to New York, when we go to London, when we go to southern California…‘For Amador is our name’ is the end of the school hymn and that’s something that the students take very seriously, we take a lot of pride in that, getting to represent the 2,200 students other students on this campus everywhere we go,” said Mr. Grantham

As a group that values tradition, experiencing such a pivotal anniversary has been an extra special experience for the band.

“We talk to the students a lot about the history of the band and the fact that their success right now is built on the work that was done before they got here, and that they have a responsibility to honor the tradition that’s been built for them but then also, to take care of it and preserve it, to pay it forward.  It’s part of our band culture to always recognize and honor our history, so the fact that we’re hitting a milestone just makes that even more important,” said Mr. Grantham.

Amador’s Marching Band and Color Guard students and teachers believe the program has thrived for a variety of reasons.  

“I think it’s thrived for so long because of the energy and dedication of its members and directors. The students enjoy being in the band and the directors do too. It’s a nice place that everyone throughout the years has appreciated and worked to continue for future members,” said Gabrielle Mirsky (‘19).

The support of teachers, parents, and administrators has played a significant role in allowing the band to thrive over the decades.

“Not just great teachers and committed students, but the support of the parents of those students and the administrators, like the principals and the superintendents, have had a long tradition of supporting the bands here.  A lot of times schools will cut or diminish music programs when the budget is not good. I would say our district and our school, over many years, have been very consistently in support of the music programs even if the financial peace wasn’t always really strong in the district so that support has been key,” said Mr. Grantham.

The dynamic between band directors and students has allowed performing in the Marching Band and Color Guard to be a special experience.

“Our directors, Grantham and Dandrea, they provide so much positivity and energy it helps us push on even when we are tired,” said Hailey Maldonado (‘19), the band’s color guard captain.

While celebrating this anniversary, students and directors look back at their time together with fondness.

“The bus rides are always so much fun.  On the bus I eat food and play games with my friends.  On the way home from one competition we were all deliriously tired, someone brought a speaker so we all sang along to the music quite terribly and it was like 12 am,” said Brooke Frerich (‘21).

Band and Color Guard students describe performing together as a thrilling experience.

“When we all put on the jacket and walk onto a field, we aren’t only performing and giving our all just for…the band directors, we do our best for each other and that is what allows this program to thrive,” said Joe Nazareno (‘20), one of Amador’s drum majors.

The Marching Band and Color Guard not only perform together, they also form a special bond together.  As Amador’s music programs have flourished throughout the past century, students describe their band family to have a connection with the potential to thrive through time.    

“Band is family to us because we spend hours together and family doesn’t ever split apart.  You gain friendships and bonds that are unbreakable,” said Hailey Maldonado (‘19).