School Band Takes Act to the Airwave

Cool, calm and collected.

That was an apt description of the collective state of mind Wednesday morning of members of the Granada Hills High School marching band.

That night, the ensemble's musicians, flag and drill team members and highland dancers were to don their kilts and Scottish glengarry bonnets to perform at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

They were the scheduled opening act for the American Teacher Awards, sponsored and presented by the Walt Disney Co., in recognition of outstanding efforts by educators. The event will be aired at 8 p.m. June 20 on the Disney Channel, said Al Nelson, marching band director and music department chairman at Granada Hills High.

Band members, however, treated the occasion as just another day at the office as they completed final rehearsals of the two songs they were to perform--"Get on Your Feet," a Gloria Estefan tune, and "We Have Come to Learn," the theme song for the awards presentation, written by Harold Wheeler.

"It's just another performance," said senior clarinetist Vanessa Hales, 17, a Highlander marching band member since her freshman year.

Senior highland dancer Amy Rodrigues, 18, also a four-year performer, concurred. "We've been on television before, so I'm not nervous."

Nelson, who estimated that the Highlander marching band has been on television 10 times during the past four years, confessed he was more nervous about Wednesday night's performance than his students seemed to be.

That's because the marching band will be a featured act, rather than in the background on a televised broadcast. Such was the case June 4 when the high school unveiled its new football scoreboard bearing the name of Denver Bronco quarterback John Elway, a former Highlander and a shoo-in to be an NFL Hall of Famer.

"This is definitely one of our bigger performances," Nelson said. "It's an opportunity to play nationwide at a professional venue for the Disney Channel."

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