BY ANDREAS YILMA REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High School marching band which has been distinguished on a national and state level will now be able to represent the borough at the nation’s capital on Independence Day.
Naugatuck High School marching band director Emanuel Arboleda received a formal invitation via email in Sept. of 2022 from National Independence Day Parade for his band to perform in Washington D.C. on July 4 along with other bands from around the nation. The borough was only one of two school selected from the state. The other was Kennedy High School out of Waterbury.
“They were talking about our band was on their radar for the past couple of years and they’ve only just been seeing good things from our high placements,” Arboleda said.
The Naugatuck High School marching band was named late 2021 the best marching band in New England and came in the top third of the nation in its respective division.
The band competed in U.S. Bands Group II Open division and received first overall in New England out of four schools competing, and subsequently won the state championship in New Britain on Nov. 3. The band then battled in the same division at the national level and won third place out of seven schools at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. in Nov. of 2021.
Arboleda, who is also the NPS Fine Arts Coordinator, said when he first received the email, his jaw just dropped.
“I was a little speechless. I was by myself but I had read the email several times just to make sure it was a real thing,” Arboleda said. “Then I saw the links that they sent me and I saw the videos of the previous parades. As I was having more email exchanges, it became more and more of a reality that, yea we were doing this.”
America’s National Independence Day Parade takes place annually on Independence Day at 11:45 a.m. on Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Street before a street audience of hundreds of thousands of spectators, according to National Independence Day Parade website.
The borough high school marching band will have its own banner saying “Naugatuck High School Greyhound Marching Band” and will invite along some middle school students to perform and learn some of the high school music. The band will perform two songs, Arboleda said.
Naugatuck Public Schools Communications Specialist Laraine Weschler has shared a live stream in order for borough residents can watch the band on the day of, Arboleda said.
About 60 borough musicians, including several seniors who recently graduated, along with about a dozen color guards and 20 parent chaperones will go town to the nation’s capital through various assistance including promotion from the borough and different fundraisers from the fall through the spring.
“We received a lot of donations as well,” Arboleda said. “So the support was tremendous from our town.”
Arboleda said to his knowledge this is the first time the borough high school will perform at the nation’s capital. He had received a list of past state bands that have done this parade and Naugatuck was not on that list. The band
Lily Kosko, who is a band council president, flute section leader and will be a junior in the fall, said when she found out about the invitation to perform in Washington D.C., she was very excited for the opportunity for her and the entire program.
“It’s a huge honor to march since it’s by invitation only,” Kosko said. “It’s going to be an amazing experience I haven’t had in the 3 years with the band.”
Students raised about $7,562 through individual fundraising while about various sponsors donated about $7411 which included the Portuguese Club, the Rotary Club, Schmidt Electric, the Teacher’s Union, ION Bank and The Loaded Goat.
“It means a lot to our town,” Arboleda said. “We’re a very prideful and patriotic town for sure and just based off of the amount of support that we’ve received from people in our town and from our mayor and from our teachers and board of ed, you can just tell that everyone has backs with this and it’s really just exciting for us to represent them on this trip.”
Arboleda said none of this would happen without the school board’s support who approved the tip and gives financial support with with resources such as instructors, instructional supplies, and transportation annually.
“I’ve been able to watch them grow. Some of these seniors I taught back when they were in fourth grade, when I was an elementary music teacher then,” Arboleda said. “Just to have that one extra opportunity to see them do what they do best is going to be a privilege for me.”