The Clay High School Marching Band is traveling to New York to perform on Nov. 26, and for students making the trip, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Words cannot describe (the excitement),” said Brian Guyras, Clay’s head bandleader. “The students are overwhelmed with anticipation.”
For Guyras, himself a graduate of Clay High School who has been working for the school since ’99, this is the second time he’s taken the band to perform in New York, but the excitement isn’t lost on him either.
“It’s a significant performance for our school, for our city, and for our state,” he said.
|Members of the Clay High School marching band are practising in anticipation of their trip to New
York City NOV. 26. in addition to performing on the USS Intrepid, the students will visit Ground Zero.
Clay’s band makes a trip every other year to perform, and this group’s determination can be seen through the 130 performing band members’ resolve to raise the money for the trip.
“Each student raised their own funds,” Guyras said. “No money came from the school.”
With this kind of performance , it’s hard for the students to not let it affect the way they approach practice.
“It can be hard to get them to focus,” Guyras said, “(but) they’ve actually stepped up their performance a level because they want to perform well (in New York).”
Adding to that pressure is the fact that the Clay Marching Band will perform on top of the USS Intrepid, also known as “The Mighty ‘I, a once-active aircraft carrier.
The Intrepid was commissioned during World War II, and was active on and off until 1974, when it was decommissioned permanently. In 1982, however, it was turned into the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
Guyras has done his best to prepare his band with some historical context that he hopes will show exactly how important this opportunity to perform on the Intrepid is.
“The students did see a historical video of (the Intrepid) being damaged by the Kamikaze in a major attack during World War II,” he said. “They didn’t think the ship would still be around.”
Along with the performance on the carrier, the trip to New York will include visiting other historical sites, one of which Guyras thinks his students may not be completely prepared for.
“We are going to be visiting Ground Zero,” he said. “The students are quite aware of how sacred that ground is, (but) they may be caught off guard a little bit.”
Guyras knows that his band works hard, and he hopes this trip to New York will help reward both the band’s new members, as well as those who have been with the band throughout their high school career.
“It’s an important trip for our seniors who are ending their career,” he said, “and it’s also important for the (other classes) to see the importance of staying in band.”
And aside from anything else, Guyras hopes that the band members will have a good time. “Some (students) may want to return and spend the rest of their lives there, but for (others) it might be the only time they visit New York,” Guyras said. “I want them to enjoy it.”