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  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    From left, Levi Gordon on sax, Darius Jordan, bass drum, Elijanwan Abdul-Rahman, sax, and Albert Kuzko, flute, practice the school song in band class this week at Grant High School in Sacramento. The Grant Pacers have been without a marching band for 20 years.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    Music teacher James Van Buren helps Levi Gordon and Anna Lopez with their performance this week in their Grant High intermediate band class.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

    The drum line practices with the intermediate band class this week at Grant High for an upcoming performance.

More Information

  • Who: River City Concert Band
    When: Sunday, 2 p.m.
    Where: Grant High School Auditorium, 1400 Grand Ave.
    Cost: $10, tickets available at the door. Students free with a student body card.
    Pre-show: The Grant High School alumni museum will be open at 1 p.m. The museum includes pictures of all graduates from 1933-2012 and the school's history.

Grant High alumni's mission: Bring back the marching band

Published: Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012 - 12:07 am

Grant High School alumni pointed to a glass display case of weathered photos from as far back as 1937, showing dozens of teens holding instruments with perfect marching band posture.

This is the goal, they said.

"We want to bring back the high school band," said Beverly Kennedy of the Grant Union High School Alumni Association, which formed a committee to raise money for its Bring Back the Band campaign.

The alumni group, which awarded $101,000 in student scholarships last year, made resurrecting the Pacers' marching band their flagship cause this year as the high school prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary this weekend.

A committee of Grant alumni so far has raised 10 percent of the $250,000 they estimate would be needed to buy music, equipment, uniforms and provide transportation to competitions.

After 20 years without a school marching band, administrators added a beginning band class last fall and had 30 students sign up. This year, a second class was added for intermediate players and a combined 60 students are enrolled.

"Music is a big part of me," said Jessica Rosell, 15, who plays the clarinet. "It's made me stronger and more confident. People think band is nerdy. I don't. Music helped me to be who I am today."

After transferring into the school, Rosell said the band helped her make friends and feel like she belonged at the school. Among those new friends is Heriberto Espinosa, 14, who learned to play the clarinet in four weeks.

Angelina Jimenez, 15, who plays the flute, said the band classes gave her the aspiration to play in a college marching band and perhaps earn a music scholarship. "I've learned so much," she said.

The band class has been rehearsing the Grant Fight Song, which they will perform at the end of Sunday's fund-raiser featuring the River City Concert Band at the Grant High School Auditorium at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will go to the Bring Back the Band campaign.

"I'm just so happy they are coming along," said Sondra Fuson, a 1954 Grant alumna who played the saxophone in the school's band.

"This is how it all starts – from scratch," said Fuson, who has coordinated the high school's 80th anniversary celebration, which includes a reunion for the 1950-55 classes at the Crowne Plaza on Saturday.

The alumni group is also hosting a golf tournament on Friday at River Oaks Golf Club, with profits going to benefit the high school marching band.

Fuson and Kennedy credited Grant alumnus John Giboney for spurring the band's return after he attended a football game and saw there wasn't a school band.

"School bands create a lot of positive spirit on campus," said Bob Bastian, a Twin Rivers Unified School District trustee, who graduated from Grant in 1952. "You have to have options for all kids, not just sports. We have a lot of kids who can potentially get into music."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez



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