Cal’s marching band, wind ensemble, and color guard earn top honors at competition


Brenda Shanahan and Kaila Young

It’s been quite a month for Cal High’s marching band, wind ensemble, and color guard.

The marching band and color guard were crowned Division 3A Champions of Northern California after the Nov. 15 championships in Fairfield.

At the same competition, wind ensemble earned top  honors in Northern California.

On Nov. 8, marching band and color guard also won six sweepstakes awards in Merced, including Overall Field Sweepstakes, General Effect Sweepstakes, Marching Sweepstakes, Percussion Sweepstakes, and Color Guard Sweepstakes.

“California High School was well represented by some very talented and dignified young men and women,” said band director Kent Johnson in an email to Cal staff on Nov. 17.

Senior drum major Hannah Johnson also won Sweepstakes for Field Conductor at the Nov. 8 competition.

“It is my job to be there for any of the band or guard members whether as a leader, a friend, an older sister, or even as a mom,” said Hannah Johnson.

Senior Daina Laughton, who is the color guard captain, takes care of all color guard equipment. She is also the messenger between the band director and the students.

“It can be easier to comprehend directions when you’re the same age as your colleagues,” said Laughton.

Section leaders run sectional rehearsals and check attendance in their sections, and the woodwind captain is in charge of helping the section leaders.

Senior woodwind captain Manu Vadi takes her job very seriously.

“Usually during rehearsals if I see something in the drill that’s not looking quite right, I’ll address that by making sure we do a couple more reps and fix the issue,” said Vadi.

There are currently 90 students in marching band and color guard, collectively.

“They are talented, dedicated, and fun to work with. Not to mention that they work really hard,” said Kent Johnson, who has been Cal’s band teacher and director  for more than a decade.

During the school year, color guard and marching band rehearse on Mondays from 3:30-9 p.m., Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. When preparing for a competition, Saturday practice goes until midnight.

Before school in August, students must attend a two-week band camp. This camp, along with the Saturday practices, is mandatory to pass the class.

During the camp, members teach new students the basics, including how to march, how to read a drill sheet, and how to abide by proper rehearsal etiquette.

The students are also notified  of the theme their shows will follow throughout the year. This year’s theme was “Camelot.”

Aside from participating in competitions, marching band and color guard perform at Friday home football games.

They also participate in the Homecoming parade and halftime show during the homecoming game.

On Oct. 30, they played in the Halloween Parades at Bollinger Canyon Elementary School, Neil Armstrong Elementary School, and Country Club Elementary School.

For those who are looking to join, the first day of clinics for winter guard were held on Nov. 19 to teach incoming participants the basics of guard.

Clinics continue tomorrow, on Nov. 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Just bring water, a healthy snack, athletic attire, and a positive attitude. Boys and girls welcome,” reads a winter guard promotion flyer.