AHS Marching Band

Junior Drum Major Lucy Kores, Senior Drum Major Elsa Steen Koppell and Color Guard Captain Jessica Pusa.Photo courtesy of Jan Gardner


There was no shortage of highlights for the Spirit of Arcadia Marching Band this season, from winning their first show and carrying that lead throughout the fall to performing at the SUSD Marching Band Exhibition hosted at Arcadia High School. 

These efforts helped the group go all the way in its competitive circuits, the Arizona Marching Band Association (AZMBA) and the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors Association (ABODA) State Championships – winning both for the eighth year in 2021.

Arcadia High Band Director Jan Gardner said going undefeated was fantastic for everyone involved. The band members kept improving and ultimately saved their best performance for last to win the state championship.

“It is reassuring to know that the directors and staff are teaching the students well and giving them the tools to be successful, which allows them to accomplish their performance and competition goals,” Gardner said. 

Gardner revealed that the best part is watching the final product come to fruition throughout the season and seeing the students grow and mature as musicians and people.

The band’s 2021 competitive show, titled “Skylines,” is an original work written for marching band, composed by Gary P. Gilroy, Shawn Glyde and Nate Bourg. AHS had three different visual skyline props representing music and movement on a New York City morning, Chicago afternoon and Los Angeles evening.

The winning performance was months in the making as the group started learning the new routine in the spring and kept practicing throughout the summer. Daily rehearsals started at band camp a few weeks before the school year and continued with early morning practices throughout the week.

“At band camp, we start working on marching techniques and basics, which involves a lot of physical preparation to adapt to the physical demands of marching and performing, especially in the Arizona heat,” Gardner added. 

Once they completed the show’s outline at the end of September, the 39 performers across winds, percussion, drum majors, and color guard spent the rest of the season enhancing their performance based on the judge’s feedback. The band stayed busy with football games, pep assemblies, and competitions, so they were ready when it came time for the championships.

Having moved into AZMBA’s 1A class and ABODA’s Div. IV, Arcadia participated in both state championships on the weekends leading to Thanksgiving. 

After earning two first-place state finishes, the champions said that they are proud of their incredible school spirit, which wouldn’t be the same without the overwhelming support from the school community.

“We had amazing help from parents, loading and unloading our equipment trucks and providing us with lunch every Saturday so the students could focus and do their best,” Gardner said. “The marching band is one of the most visible musical ensembles on campus and can unite everyone and create a sense of pride in the school community when playing the Fight Song, pep music and National Anthem.”