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111817 Cabrillo band

Members of the Cabrillo High School marching band and color guard pose on the field after winning a pair of medals during the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association championships on Nov. 18 in Downey.

The Cabrillo High School marching band recently added a gold and silver medal to its collection of awards after a trip last weekend to one of the region’s top band competitions.

The Cabrillo High band and color guard traveled to Downey on Nov. 18 to compete with other top band programs in the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) championships. The Cabrillo band earned a silver medal for second place for its field show in the 1A competition, and its high percussion unit took home gold as the top scorers in that category.

The scoring difference between first and second place for the field show was only 0.15 points. Cabrillo swept all of the musical scores and was only bettered in the visual scores.

This was the third straight year that Cabrillo has medaled — finished among the top three — in the popular competition. Further, Cabrillo has now been to the championship event in four out of the seven years that Garson Olivieri has served as band director.

Clara Swart, a sophomore who plays the flute, said she has enjoyed the journey the band has undertaken this year, and that “being a part of this (band) means the world to me.”

“To me, being a part of this group is like taking a part of my soul and sharing it with a group of people, without having to worry about being rejected,” she said. “It’s hard to find a group of people who can make you feel so strongly that you feel your chest tighten as you walk off the field at championships because you’ve found that little piece of you that holds this beautiful thing you’ve worked so hard on and they’ve helped you build it and show it to the world.”

Cabrillo was invited to the championship after finishing third out of 27 bands at the 1A marching band level.

The Cabrillo marching band is led by Olivieri, who was named the 2018 Santa Barbara Bowl performing arts teacher of the year, along with drum major Samantha Guerrero, auxiliary captain Hanna Mack and percussion captains Brad Bleak and Christopher Raj.

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The program is supported by the Cabrillo Instrumental Music Foundation.

Olivieri’s passion and genuine affection for the students “sets the tone” for the band, said Sara Swart, president of the foundation.

“We talk about the ‘band family,’ and it can sound like a bit of a cliché, but at the same time, it’s very real,” she said. “They care for one another, on and off the field. One special thing about this group is that the love comes first. The group provides a supportive place to grow and develop, accepting quirks, and allowing vulnerability, while at the same time challenging each member to give their best and be accountable to the group.”

This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at