Marching Into History
Punahou Students Practice for Inaugural Parade
Powdery snowflakes drifted onto the Washington, D.C., sidewalks Monday morning, Jan. 19, as the band, cheerleaders and cadets prepared for their final rehearsal before Inauguration Day. The students were somewhat bleary-eyed, but the dusting of snow sparked an immediate flurry of excitement in the hotel lobby. "It's snowing!" they squealed, dashing outside to lift their faces to the falling snowflakes.
Buses pulled in and the students began loading up the instruments for a practice run at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va.
On the bus, Sarah '11 and Christina '11, tuba and flute player, respectively, reminisced about starting together in band when they were in the fifth grade. Sarah, the only female tuba player in the band, carries a 45-pound instrument that's nearly half her body weight. The diminutive sophomore said she couldn't wait to pass the presidential viewing stand the next day. "We're not supposed to turn our head, but I'm hoping I can sneak a glance at him," she said, referring to President Obama.
Arriving at Yorktown High School, the students quickly spilled out onto a wide athletic field. The sky was overcast and the air numbingly cold.
They gathered in a circle in the middle of the field to listen to band co-director Jason Sivill's final instructions. "Today is a special day," he announced. "It's our final rehearsal for the school year. This is where your hard work throughout the year comes to fruition, and it's up to you to make this practice and tomorrow's performance the best it can possibly be."
The field burst into life as the sections separated for warm-ups: the drums rapped out their syncopated rhythms; the brass and winds rolled through their careful steps; the color guard whipped the yellow banners into flying arcs, cadets flipped their placards with precision; and the cheerleaders bounded into their rousing cheers.
At 11 a.m., as the full band played the glorious "Brahms Symphony No. 1," the sun peeked through the clouds, lighting the group in a wintry glow.
"Being here in Washington, D.C., at a time when the city is so alive, is invigorating," said Dean Ruth Fletcher. "From Barack Obama's recent speeches, I feel he's calling upon Americans to be the best they can be, based on the values that our country was founded upon: integrity, wisdom, sacrifice and service. He's asking all of us to come together as one America - that out of many, come one."
Seemingly on cue, the full Punahou contingent - band, cadets, cheerleaders - gathered to do a few final turns around the track, stepping and playing in unison.
They paraded with precision and pride, focused on what tomorrow would bring.
Special thanks to Dr. Raymond Pasi, principal of Yorktown High School, for the donation of practice space.
THE PUNAHOU BAND REACTS
Jan. 20, 6:30 p.m.: Band members, cadets and
cheerleaders streamed into the hotel, many still shivering from the
bitter cold of their just-completed march down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Daniel '11, JROTC cadet
Once the parade started after that long wait, that freezing cold wait in the beginning, it just flew by. When we passed by Barack's stand, he was busy talking to someone else and then he turned to us and shaka'd and gave this big smile. We were supposed to be stern, but I couldn't help but smile along with him. It was really heartfelt.
Hunter '09, JROTC cadet
This was something notmany other high schools get to do and it was an honor and a privilege.We went by the review stand and Barack Obama looked me in the eye - I know he looked me in the eye - and he smiled and shaka'd.Wow, that was neat.
Mari '11, band member
The parade was awesome! It was super exciting because everyone was cheering for us. A lot of them were shouting, "Mahalo" because they thought it meant hello. It was amazing to know that we marched in front of Barack Obama and in front of all those people and represented Hawai‘i.
Jordyn '09, cheerleader
The crowd was really, really friendly. They welcomed us with the same aloha that we came to give them.
Tyler '09, drum major
past the viewing stand, you really want to look at him and wave, but
you know if you do you look like an idiot onTV. So you just have to
keep looking straight ahead. I looked out of the corner of my eye, and
when I saw him, I thought, I saw a president for the first time in my
life!That was the best part of the parade.
Calla '11, drum major
up for the parade actually meant that we were the first people to
march. It was a little scary ... It was really different seeing Barack
Obama and hearing him take the oath of office this morning. Hearing how
he could never have imagined being president and now he is president -
it's opened up this whole new spectrum of possibilities and you think,
I can do that.