Hemet Unified School District

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West Valley's Band Named State Champions

West Valley High School's Competitive Marching Band, The Pride of West Valley, were recently crowned State Champions. This achievement is a great honor and a first in school and band history! 

The band has been competing since the beginning of October in the California State Band Championships (CSBC). After attending three regional competitions, and hosting their own, they earned the chance to go to CSBC Semi Finals. They competed against 40 other bands in their class from around the state, earning a 2nd place seed going into the 1st round of cuts. After Semi Finals they attended Division Finals, and came out on top, being crowned the Class 2A CSBC Grand Champion, against the narrowed pack of 26 bands. This earned them the right to compete in the Open Class Championship which only accepted the top 12 bands regardless of their size. The Pride earned 11th place, in the entire CSBC Circuit, at Open Class Championships.  

Students gathering together to take a picture with their banner and medals after the Championship was the most memorable part of the season, said West Valley Band Director TJ Hepburn. “That was the culmination you want; to produce high quality and have that work recognized,” said Hepburn. 

TJ said the band’s success can be attributed to many things. First, his students have had a positive attitude since they began practicing at the end of last school year. Second, the more experienced band members became real leaders in helping the less experienced members get to that competition experience level. Thirdly, the Drum Major, Douglas Swayne, spent this summer traveling across the nation with the Drum and Bugle Corps and picked up new techniques he brought back to his team. 

This journey to success was no easy task. Students began in May, practiced during the summer, and once school started they had practiced for four days a week for a minimum of three hours, and then almost every Saturday from September through November they were competing or performing. 

It was such a joy to see the progression of the performance, said West Valley Principal Dr. Janice Jones. “TJ came up with a concept that wasn’t tangible and six months later we saw his idea of ‘Pandora’s Box Reopened’ come to life,” said Jones.  She continued to say, “It has become the soundtrack to my first year as a Principal.” 

TJ said the idea of re-opening Pandora’s Box was an opportunity to bring positivity back into the world. He said there is a lot of evil in the world, but wouldn’t it be nice to let go and open the box up to allow hope to come in? Well, that is exactly what the band did. At the end of their performance they had a large box, engineered by a parent and constructed by TJ, that opened and “Hope” came out. It allowed us to let hope back into the world, said TJ. 

“Good things happen in good places,” said TJ. He thanked the students, parents, band staff, and administration for helping the band reach this goal.  He said a lot of people put in a lot of hard work, and he is happy his students were able to see and feel the recognition at the end of it all.

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