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Sandy Journal

Alta High Marching Band didn’t let the sun go down on their season

Dec 14, 2020 02:37PM ● By Julie Slama

The 80-member Alta High Marching Band was able to perform in four competitions in addition to the state championships during their fall season. (Photo courtesy of Alta High Marching Band)

By Julie Slama | j.sla[email protected]

The 80-member Alta High Marching Band had two successes this year, according to director Caleb Shabestari. 

“We didn’t go after trophies, but we pushed to be able to play and finish the season,” he said about competing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The student-musicians were able to march in four competitions, but they also competed and placed in the top five at state in the open 5A competition. 

“At the end of the season, we were so relieved we were able to play the entire time. We had a few cases of COVID, and had people out with quarantine, and at one competition, we marched with 10 holes when our members were out. But we’re thankful we were able to play the entire season knowing it could end at any moment with all the restrictions from the school, district, county and governor,” he said. “We learned to live each day to the fullest.”

All season the Hawks were reminded of the pandemic. At competitions, student groups were ushered in and out of competitions, so they weren’t able to watch other schools and even judge numbers were limited so they could be socially distanced in the press box. 

The student-musician group, who also came from Juan Diego Catholic High, Jordan High, Corner Canyon High and a few other neighboring schools, knew to take safety precautions, wearing masks while competing as members of the color guard, percussion, even the reed and brass players. They were being socially distanced, sanitizing and taking “vibe” checks or temperature and health symptom checks, he said.

While Shabestari realized times may look bleak, he wanted to encourage his students to give a meaningful show, which was titled “The Sun Will Rise.” The show included bright colors, joyful parts and the Elton John song, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.” Parents, too, helped with the show, creating a rotating giant sun as a prop.

“My goal was something happy and uplifting. I planned it while everything was shutting down, so I wanted something the kids could attribute meaning to, not just get a trophy,” he said. “I think we were able to share that.”