By Tim Haddock | For The Signal
For the members of the Saugus High Marching Centurions, Memorial Day will have an added degree of significance.
The Saugus High band is marching in the National Memorial Day parade at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day, and will be making memories that will last a lifetime.
Memorial Day is the time to remember the soldiers who gave their lives to their country during times of war and conflict. Memorial Day will also be a time when the members of the Saugus High band can reflect on their time in high school and their unique experiences.
Saugus High band director Bob Grigas said he is looking forward to having “these students and their families experience our nation’s capital and perform for the world.’’
Saugus High students have plenty to reflect on. They lived through a pandemic and remote learning. They missed competitions and halftime shows at football games. They missed playing at competitions throughout the state.
The seniors in the band had one of the most frightening experiences of all, the deadly school shooting in 2019.
It’s been an eventful high school experience for many of the Saugus High band members. To end their high school band careers participating in the National Memorial Day parade is described as an honor by some of the students.
“I’m honored to be able to have this once in a lifetime experience marching down Constitution Avenue, and to be able to share it with my closest friends,” junior Brady MacDougall said.
Drum major and senior Raquel Atilano said she is looking forward to seeing all the historical sites and visiting Washington, D.C. is on her “bucket list.”
“It’s a huge honor to be performing in the Memorial Day parade honoring those who have served our country,” Atilano said. “It’s also a big accomplishment for our band and a huge privilege for us. We’ve worked very hard to put on an amazing performance for the nation.”
Marching in the National Memorial Day parade is only part of the trip for the Saugus High band. They will also attend the National Memorial Day concert performed by the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, the night before the parade. It will be broadcast on PBS at 8 p.m.
“This is an incredible honor for the program, the school, and the city,” Grigas said. “The students are very excited and for many this will be their first time performing outside of the state.”
The Saugus High band will spend four days in Washington, D.C. There are planned visits to Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington Monument and Lafayette Square during the trip. The band will also visit the Lincoln, Korean War, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam War, World War II and Thomas Jefferson memorials.
“I’m really excited to see all the historic monuments and seeing the U.S. Capitol especially with all my friends,” senior Monet Rumer said.
Additionally, the band will tour the Smithsonian Institution of American History & National History Museum.
MacDougall said he is excited to see the important landmarks “that have been instrumental in our country’s history.”
On the day of the parade, the band will visit the U.S. Capitol. Afterward, they will head to the National Mall in preparation of the National Memorial Day parade that will pass from the White House to the Washington Monument along Constitution Avenue.
“For the seniors it means so much since this will be their first and last tour with Saugus,” Grigas said. “Seeing their progress is the most impressive. These students have achieved a level of excellence that I have not seen in my 20 years of teaching. Truly a special group.”
The Saugus High band set a high bar for excellence. They finished in seventh place in Division 4-A in the Southern California Schools Band and Orchestra Association championships at Valencia High School in Placentia. The band won competitions at the Valencia Field Tournament, the Oxnard High Field Tournament and at the Music in Motion Field Tournament at Centennial High School in Bakersfield.
The band returns from Washington, D.C. to Santa Clarita on Tuesday, the day before graduation for the seniors.
“I wouldn’t want to end my high school career any other way,” Rumer said. “It’ll definitely be a good note to end it on.”
Atilano said it feels incredible ending her band season with a trip to Washington, D.C.
“Not only am I excited to see parts of history in D.C. and participate in the parade, but this is my first and only tour as a senior and it’s such an amazing way to end the year, representing my state at such an honorable event,” she said. “I am truly honored to lead my band one last time as we march the streets of our capital.”
The National Memorial Day parade can be viewed on Monday on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/6293205327436655