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3 Yuma high school bands rated ‘excellent'
When the announcer skipped over Cibola High School in the “fair” and “good” category at a state marching band competition, band director Alexia Carifio began to cry because that had to mean they received either an “excellent” or a “superior” rating.
“With everything that we've gone through — and we've gone through a lot — the students really have come together as a family and come together as a team, and they represented Cibola and the city and county of Yuma very well. I can't say any more about how proud I am of them and all their hard work and effort.”
Three local high school marching bands — Cibola, Yuma and Gila Ridge — received an excellent rating after competing against schools from across Arizona during recent state marching band competitions.
Cibola, a Division 1 band with more than 94 students marching, competed in one event while Yuma High and Gila Ridge, both Division 2 bands with fewer than 94 students marching, competed in another.
Carifio explained that to get to the state competition, the bands first had to receive an excellent rating during a state qualifying event.
Although Carifio has been a band director at other schools, she said this was her first time taking such a large band to a state competition and also her first year at Cibola. It was nerve-racking to say the least, she said.
“The kids were really good about it — they actually calmed me down. The upperclassmen who had been to state before knew the ropes and they were really helping me out the whole way with it.”
Carifio said that to come home with an excellent rating after being new to the campus and overcoming obstacles at the beginning of the year was a huge honor.
“It says a lot about them and their character,” she said of the students. “I felt that finally we became a family that day. It was really wonderful for the kids to see that we did it. It wasn't that I did it or they did it, we did this together.”
She said their goal next year is to bring home a superior rating, the rating above excellent and the highest possible at a competition.
“That's my goal and objective for them and I believe it's their objective, too, to go all the way. I know they can do it, and I'm making sure that they believe in themselves. They're getting a lot more confident. I can't ask for better kids; the Cibola kids have taken me on as part of them, and it's been a real smooth transition for me here.”
Yuma High School band director Amanda Dallabetta said she was also impressed with her band's rating of an excellent.
“I was pleased with their performance,” said Dallabetta, who has been teaching at Yuma High for 10 years. “The journey to the state marching festival was successful. Many of the students displayed dramatic improvement as musicians; it's truly striking how much those students have changed, and it's exciting to imagine how much more they can improve.”
Asked how the students reacted to the rating they received, she said she saw mixed reactions.
“Some were disappointed, others were pleased. Most of the students understand it's not only those six opinions that determine our success, but about where we started and where we are now.”
Gila Ridge High School band director Chris Davis added that he felt his students did well and noted that the competition was their best performance of the year.
In regards to the rating they received, Davis said, “Most of them felt disappointed because they wanted a higher score. I felt that this reaction was good in that they didn't to settle for the score they got.”
He said the event was a great real life experience for them, helping to prepare the students for a competitive job market where it is imperative to want to improve in order to grow and succeed.