Hart High School and Saugus High School took top spots at the Winter Guard Association of Southern California’s World Open on April 23, held at California State University, Long Beach.
Hart won first place in the scholastic A division, while Saugus won in the scholastic AAA division.
Hart’s band director, Anthony Bailey, said the team started in the lower AAA division but performed so well that by the time the finals came around, they had graduated to A — the top division.
“The fact that we were promoted two classes and then ended up winning the division, it’s pretty spectacular … I’m so proud of the team, obviously coming out of COVID, everything has been rebooting, all of our programs — especially statewide,” said Bailey. “To see kids actually involved in doing that and then to see not only them come back and do all of these things, but to do it at a really high level, makes me really proud of them.”
Hart’s award-winning routine this year was based on the classic Ben E. King song, “Stand by Me.” The arrangement added some modern touches and was played into Hart’s theme of working together to achieve a common goal.
The routine incorporated flags, benches and other props to help sell the performance.
Bailey said none of their achievements could have been possible without the help of the parents involved.
“The parents are very supportive of the program. None of this could happen without them,” said Bailey. “They’re the ones that get their kids to class every day and work really hard.”
One of the many proud parents was Michael Uno, father of freshman Carly Uno. Uno said he’s extremely proud of his daughter, the whole team and the program itself, even though at times, it could be a little nerve-racking.
“It was very, very nerve-wracking for all of us as parents,” said Uno. “We want the best for our kids, but we’re just happy that they made finals and getting a medal whether it be gold, silver, bronze, it would just be icing on the cake. But they pushed through so many challenges and they came off winning a gold medal.”
Hart became the first WGASC team to win three gold medals in a single season.
Rob Guzman, Saugus’ band director, said their division-winning performance was called “Amazonia Nocturna,” and featured bright colors and neon lights that gave off a pink and purple glow.
“It’s such a great feeling, especially for the students, and having such a young team — we only have one junior and one senior, the rest are underclassmen — they’ve just grown so much since the beginning of the school year to where they’re at now,” said Guzman. “They just worked extremely hard this season to put this routine together and just the dedication they have and the passion for what we do showed this weekend.”