Saturday, April 28, 2012

Championship win for Granite Hills High School

Top - Recorder Photo by Cheiko Hara. Clown: Photo of Abraham Leon by Ryan Garcia

There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the Granite Hills High School Winter Percussion Ensemble would win the PPAACC Championship title today. How could I doubt it? The drumline is amazing!
They have placed first in three out of four competitions. The time they received a second place win - they lost by 1/10th of a point. Wow - goes to show - every single every fragment of a point counts when you are this good.
On Saturday, the team took the floor for a 10 a.m. competition, and by early afternoon - were finally acknowledged as the champions they already knew they were.

Congratulations, Granite Hills High School Drumline, band director Kenny Ormonde and drumline instructors, Ryan Garcia and Cody Clem! You all totally rock! I am so proud of you.
Coulrophobia - fear of clowns - is not the reason drumline ensembles from throughout the Valley, including some from the Los Angeles area, should fear the Granite Hills High School Winter Percussion Ensemble....The real reason? The band is amazing and should be feared!  Click on story below.

Porterville - the town that is all about band

There is no question about it. I love anything that has to do with high school marching band and I consider myself blessed for growing up and living in the place that basically set the bar for it - PORTERVILLE.
We have a long history - more than 100 years - of band music. Our own Porterville High School not only has the oldest-continuous marching high school band in the state of California - but also in the nation!

Recently we unveiled a beautiful 100-foot long mural at Centennial Park in downtown Porterville.

That day was one that I will remember forever. To be there and watch Porterville High, Monache High and Granite Hills High bands march in, one by one, and gather - facing the park - and listening to them play the National Anthem and a patriotic medley - I loved it. Later, listening to everyone talk about our great band leaders - and listening to Jim Kusserow play "Amazing Grace" on trumpet as doves were released. I felt tears on my face. And as the band mural itself was unveiled - and seeing it, after years of anticipation, for the first time in all it's 100-foot long glory -- It was more than my heart could take.

I stood there in silence, in awe, not of the mural itself but of our town, the people who made the mural itself possible, our bands - all of them. I walked to the Time Marches on Clock - the one with the bronzed figurine of Buck Shaffer, baton in hand, leading the band - and I sat in silence. I thought about Buck Shaffer and of my love for music, band, our veterans and America. It all came rushing in at once. It was an explainable experience and one I don't claim to understand.

Do you know how you hear that right before a person dies, you see your life flash before your eyes?

I had something like that happen to me. I, in fast seconds yet in perfect clarity, saw myself at age 4 - meeting and talking to Buck Shaffer for the first time, I saw Martha Anderson introducing us to Lynn Enos when she first arrived to PHS - and loving her from day one! I saw myself standing on the football field, waiting for halftime to begin and smiling/laughing as the band came out in double time with their then traditional high-kick march - half running/half marching. I remembered how I felt at my very first ever Band-A-Rama - an experience I will never forget, and how I felt when I marched onto Jamison Stadium for my first-ever halftime show - and walking out onto the filled-to-capacity stadium to march at several Los Angeles Rams halftime shows. I remembered Gerald Ford shaking my hand and telling me he liked my smile and how sharp I looked in my Orange Blossom uniform, the super bright television lights that almost blinded me as the band marched around a bend in the street during a Hollywood Christmas Parade and marching in Disneyland year after year. The fast, yet completely focused pictures and feelings kept coming - my first East Coast Tour - seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, looking up at amazement as our bus drove past the Empire State Building and having the Twin Towers pointed out o us as we drove by on our way to tour the United Nations in New York City.

I felt tears once again as I thought of Buck Shaffer - and of some of his final days and felt grateful I was able to spend so much time with him at the end, visiting him daily for weeks.Later of traveling to Shinnston, his hometown, and touring his childhood home, Shinnston High School, the cemetery where many Shaffers are buried, and attending, and reporting on the Fabulous Studio Band Concert in Buck Shaffer's hometown.

How was it possible to see all that during a few minutes, I don't understand.

It could not have been more than two or three minutes. I got up, walked to the mural and continued talking to people. They all talked about the same love, the same respect, they felt for Buck Shaffer, our current band directors and our high school bands.

In addition, various items will be raffled between music sets. Marching through Time Mural Dedication. 10 am — Opening ...
NEWS April 9, 2012
Shaffer died in 2005, McElfresh in 2011. “Vedra was bound determined to be at the mural dedication,” Hatfield said. And in a way, she will, he said. ...
NEWS March 23, 2012
Porterville High School's Orange Blossom Leticia Garcia, 17, salutes during the dedication ceremony for the "Marching Though Time" historical band ...
NEWS April 21, 2012
anticipated unveiling of the “Marching Through Time” band mural during an ... as master of ceremonies, the unveiling and dedication ceremony slated ...
NEWS April 19, 2012
Dedication ceremony held Saturday, April 21, 2012, at Centennial Park /
VIDEO April 21, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Porterville Panther Band Concert and award recipients

Congratulations to the Porterville Panther Band Award recipients

The Frank Howard Student Award: Mitchell Walters. 

Buck Shaffer Outstanding Musician Awards: 
Juan Maldonado, Terah Rollans and Alejandro Gonzalez. 

Outstanding Orange Blossom: Olivia Nash.

Outstanding Musical Contribution Awards:
Delia Ramirez, clarinet; Eric Lucio, Alec Gonzales and Ramon Serrato, percussion.

Frank Howard Service Awards: 
Emily Gonzalez, alto saxophone; Tanna Doyel, flute; Savannah Marquez, alto saxophone; Oneida Escobar, Lexis Cartagena and Megan Behrens, Orange Blossoms.

First Chair awards:
Karen Gilstrap, French horn; Alejandro Gonzalez, percussion; Juan Maldonado, tuba; Victor Moreno, trombone; Miranda Patrick, flute; Mitchell Walters, euphonium; Sadie Whitten, clarinet.

Click below to read about tonight's Panther Band Concert.

Jim Kusserow - 2012 Tulare County Teacher of the Year

One of the nice things about attending school board meetings is learning about some of the wonderful things teachers, schools, and/or students are doing. There is always something that amazes me. At yesterday's Porterville Unified School District Board Meeting, I smiled at several things. A girl from Monache High won state champion at a competition in San Diego - the only girl there, beating dozens of boys - more on that later., several other kids saw the ocean for the first time. A Harmony Magnet Academy student, Dalton Rogers, said some pretty impressive words as he addressed the PUSD Trustees.
But what was very exciting was when Dr. John Snavely mentioned that once again the "Teacher of the Year" was from Porterville. That alone was great news. When he said the name - I literally gasped and my heart felt as if it skipped a beat. Jim Kusserow. Wow! It was wonderful news. I went to school with Jim Kusserow, marched in the band with him and graduated with him. I admire him and love that he returned to PHS to take over after Buck Shaffer retired.
I still remember when he invited me to travel with the band on their East Coast Tour - and again to travel with them to the Rose Parade. I've covered the Fabulous Studio Band during their Pacific NorthWest Tour.
But the one that stands out the most is when we were in Shinnston, West Virgina, Buck Shaffer's home town. The band was playing at the Fire Department on Father's Day. It was an amazing concert - an amazing, unforgettable trip. That day, Jim Kusserow said something simple that stayed with me and made me admire him even more. He was talking about Buck Shaffer when he said it.
"There is no place I'd rather be than to follow in the footsteps of the greatest high school music instructor I have ever known - and I've known some really good ones." -- Jim Kusserow, Shinnston, W.V.
Congratulations Jim Kusserow for being named Tulare County Teacher of the Year! Definitely well deserved.