Lake Ridge band makes mark at state

Posted Monday, Nov. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Pressure was building as the Lake Ridge High School marching band members stood in the tunnel of the Alamodome in San Antonio, waiting their turn to strut onto the field and wow spectators and judges during state finals last week.

“I was definitely nervous. I remember tears running down my face before we went on,” said senior Kassie Aguirre, a clarinetist and woodwinds captain. Then band director Matthew Garrett appeared. “He came and hugged each individual member of the band.”

That worked out to 194 hugs, as Garrett galvanized his troops to deliver their best performance to date. The result was good enough to take 10th place in the UIL Class 4A State Marching band finals last week, especially notable because the band and high school are only in their second year of existence.

And it was Lake Ridge’s first year to make a run at a title because each school classification is eligible only on alternating years.

“It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done,” Aguirre said. “It was the most memorable experience I’ve ever had, and a great way to end my senior year.”

Theirs was an otherworldly show, featuring music and formations inspired the 2002 Mel Gibson extraterrestrial invasion movie “Signs.”

Called “What in the World,” the story is told in four movements, including the assimilation of humans into aliens and the ultimate annihilation of the human race.

“We wanted to put together a production that would be different, that would make us stand out,” Garrett said.

While perhaps not the feel-good story of the season, it was a crowd pleaser at the UIL Class 4A Marching Band area finals last month, where 24 schools competed for a trip to San Antonio. Ultimately, 28 schools from across the state earned that trip, competing in the preliminary round Nov. 5. The top 10 -- including Lake Ridge – were invited back later that evening to compete for the title.

“It was exciting, because it was a big honor to do it -- and being a second-year school,” said Haylie Beard, a junior and third-year marching band flutist.

District spokesman Richie Escovedo echoed the challenge of competing as a young school.

“That’s the part that is particularly interesting and compelling about their story,” he said. “These students, when they got to Lake Ridge from other schools, would have to establish an identity and culture for the band. And in one year’s time they were able to put together a show that was able to advance to state competition.”

Garrett agreed but said the school’s sophomore year was “a lot easier than last year.”

“One of the biggest hurdles we had to jump over last year was getting the kids to establish our own identity,” said Garrett, Lake Ridge’s founding director of bands and color guard, who was assistant director at Mansfield High School the previous six years. “We were not going to do what every other band is doing. We’re going to do it the Lake Ridge way.”

It also was a good year for the district’s other 4A high school marching bands. Summit and Legacy each earned Division 1 ratings at the regional competition, qualifying for the area contests at Pennington Field in Bedford. All three advanced from the area preliminary round to the area final round, but only Lake Ridge advanced to state.

The band felt like returning champions when they gave their final performance of the regular football season in Friday’s game against Legacy High School. It was a nice finish to a great run, band members said.

“I think we were the underdogs, and nobody knew our name,” Aguirre said. “But this year we really made a name for ourselves.”

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann

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