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Three WHS Band Students to Tour with Colts Drum and Bugle Corps

By Bridget Miles (Tiger Web News)

Juniors Ariana Rios, Bowen Pennell and Jose Garcia Gonzalez have all signed contracts to tour the U.S. with Colts Drum and Bugle Corps this summer.

Colts is a competitive drum and bugle corps for high school juniors. Acceptance into this program is a high honor deemed to students with exceptional talent and is considered prestigious.

Percussion instructor Shane Batchelor said these students have shown growth in many ways including outside skills such as leadership.

“On the marching field, there is always a lot of growth that we see both in their leadership abilities and musicianship, particularly growth as individuals, and just shining more as their own person. Musically they’ve always been talented individuals. It’s progressed as their character has developed, and their musicality has progressed with that as well,” Batchelor said.

Garcia Gonzalez said he's had many challenges getting accepted into Colts. However, he said he ultimately overcame these challenges through hard work and determination.

“My first camp, I did really bad. I thought I was going to get cut, so I practiced and practiced. By my next camp, they saw an improvement, but it wasn’t enough. I worked even harder, and by the third time, I got in,” Garcia Gonzalez said.

Batchelor said that practice is an important factor in the students success.

“Practice has gone a long way. I primarily teach the percussionists, and Bowen is one of them, but I’ll preface this by saying most of the work towards that audition is self prepared,” Batchelor said.

Garcia Gonzalez said he wanted the opportunity to push himself to do better and gain experience with a community of people who are passionate about music.

“I’ve been in band for a very long time, and I figured I should take it up a notch, so I decided to try out for the Colts about two months ago. I just wanted to see if I could work with the best players. I wanted to be around people who cared about music and pushed themselves to the next level. Colts will be about memories and spending time with people who share the same interests,” Garcia Gonzalez said.

Batchelor said that touring is a great opportunity to develop many other types of skills that are important for life after high school. The experience teaches them commitment and hard work.

“There are a lot of life values you gain from that experience. You have to get up at the same time every single day, you have to be on time, you have to work really hard during rehearsals, and you can’t give up once you’re on tour. You have to commit,” Batchelor said.

Garcia Gonzalez said that he'll be playing an instrument unfamiliar to most people - the mellophone - while touring.

“The funny thing is, it’s an instrument I don’t even play. For the high school, I play the trumpet. I’ve played it for about six years, but for Colts, I’m going to be playing the mellophone,” Garcia Gonzalez said.

Batchelor said the experience is what makes Colts special.

“I hope that they have a great experience,” Batchelor said. “It’s a very rare thing that you get to tour as a young musician. It’s almost like being in a rock band and going on Warped Tour. I hope they make strong connections with who they march with. It’s an experience that they can look back on and say, ‘I survived that, I can do anything else.’”