NHS band to bring the thunder

Naugatuck High School marching band percussion instructor Matt Richter, left, demonstrates proper technique to senior Tyler Wanciak during practice Sept. 24 at the high school. The band was practicing for the upcoming Thunder in the Valley competition, which will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at the high school. –LUKE MARSHALL

Naugatuck High School marching band percussion instructor Matt Richter, left, demonstrates proper technique to senior Tyler Wanciak during practice Sept. 24 at the high school. The band was practicing for the upcoming Thunder in the Valley competition, which will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at the high school. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Thunder will roll into the Valley this weekend.

The Naugatuck High School marching band is hosting its annual Thunder in the Valley competition Saturday at 6 p.m. at the school, 543 Rubber Ave. Seven high school marching bands are competing this year, including Naugatuck, and the event will also feature an exhibition from the University of New Haven marching band.

Each band will perform their own routines. The Naugatuck High marching band’s theme for its performance this year is the Wright brothers and taking flight.

“It captures the invention of the Wright brothers and the homemade flying theme,” senior and drum major Johnathan D’Oliveira said.

D’Oliveira said the band will play flight-themed pieces, such as music from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon.”

This is the first year the marching band was able to practice and play on the new turf field since the renovation project at Naugatuck High started in April 2013.

“This is the most complete the school facility has been in the past three years. I have a feeling the show will go off better than it has for the past couple of years, and we’ve had a very successful past couple of years,” marching band Director Robert Hughes said.

For color guard captain and senior Amber Luis, performing on her home turf is a very big deal.

“It means the world. Our turf is, of course, new. It’s such a great feeling to have Naugatuck here, all the Naugatuck residents that come see us,” Luis said.

D’Oliveira echoed Luis’ sentiments.

“I’m really excited to be on our home turf,” D’Oliveira said. “It’s great to be back home. It’s really a breathtaking experience to be home where people from our community can join us and watch us.”

Clarinet player and freshman Emily Burns said the opportunity to watch other marching bands perform is exciting. However, she’s most looking forward to the chance to show off how much she has learned and how well the band has come together.

“We, the freshman and newbies, started off not knowing how to step in time, but now we are masters of that. It’s good to see everyone come together,” Burns said. “You’ve got so many different elements of the band. We are all one, but there are so many parts that make it one.”

Burns is part of a growing interest in the Naugatuck High marching band program.

“We are at 75 students this year, which is great. We are one student away from being a Class 4 band, which is the next size up,” Hughes said.

Hughes hopes to continue to grow the band and reach up to 100 students in the next few years.

Aside from the chance to compete against other high school marching bands, Thunder in the Valley also serves as a fundraiser for the Naugatuck High marching band. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children 12 years old and younger.

Hughes encouraged residents to come down and see the hard work all the bands put into the show.

“People can expect a wonderful night. They can expect to see a lot of amazing students doing a lot of really amazing things. All the students, not just the students at Naugatuck, work really hard. They dedicate hundreds of hours every fall to this activity, so it’s awesome for everybody,” Hughes said.