Going into Saturday’s Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association championships, Cabrillo High School band director Garson Olivieri said his message to his students was clear.
“I told the kids our job is to go out there and have the show of our lives,” Olivieri said Monday. “That’s what we’ll remember, anyway, when we come off the field. We felt if we did that, the placement would take care of itself.”
Shortly after walking off the field Saturday, the members of the Marching Conquistadores found out they had made school history.
The 50-member Cabrillo High band earned silver medals for finishing in second place at the 12-school SCSBOA Division 1A championships, which were held at Warren High School in Downey.
The placement was the best-ever for a Cabrillo band, which had never before earned a medal for finishing in the top three.
“We were thrilled,” Olivieri said. “The kids just exploded when they heard their name called. It was fun for me to watch from the stands as they all had their heads down just hoping and hoping as the other bands' names were being called. It was a really neat moment for me as a teacher.”
The Cabrillo band finished with a final net score of 79.6, which was 3.2 points behind the first-place San Pedro band.
The bands were judged on music performance, music effect, visual effect and visual performance. The music performance scores accounted for 40 percent of the net score, while the other three categories were each worth 20 percent of the final score.
Cabrillo, which didn’t even qualify for the SCSBOA championships last year, finished fourth in music performance, first in music effect, second in visual effect and third in visual performance.
San Pedro was third in music effect and first in every other category.
Olivieri said his squad was particularly proud of its first-place finish in the music effect category, in which teams were judged on how they grabbed the audience and carried their story.
Cabrillo’s field show, titled “Pandora's Reopening,” was chosen for its storytelling and connection with audiences, Olivieri said.
“That’s been our theme all year, and we carried that tradition into championships,” he said.
The Cabrillo auxiliary and percussion units were ranked in separate competitions.
The CHS auxiliary squad was ranked 12th with a score of 69, which was 23 points behind first-place El Camino Real; and the percussion team was ranked ninth with a score of 71, which was 10 points behind first-place Dos Pueblos.
After a short celebration on the field, Olivieri said, the band members enjoyed their usual celebratory dinner at In-N-Out Burger before making the trek back to Lompoc.
Because LUSD schools are on break this week for Thanksgiving, he said the squad likely will wait until next week before having a larger celebration.
“I’m very proud of them,” Oliveri said of his band students. “I don’t have any kids of my own, but in a way, I’ve got 64 of them. This is only what I can imagine a proud parent feels like.”