Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Education

Jesuit's high school marching band ready for halftime performance

TAMPA

When Peter Macaluso attended Jesuit High School, he always wished they had a marching band.

"All my friends at other schools marched, and the friends I made at music camps over the summer marched," said Macaluso, who graduated from Jesuit in 2007.

Five years later, Macaluso will get his wish, when the Jesuit marching band takes the field Saturday for the school's home football game against rival Plant.

As director of the school's athletic band, Macaluso led the effort to bring back the marching band, which had been a fixture at the school from the late 1960s to about 2000.

Last year, Macaluso's group entertained fans at Jesuit home football games from the stands.

But over the summer, he sent notices to Jesuit band members offering a marching camp in August. And about 22 students took him up on it.

With only a few rehearsals since then, students have taken on the new challenge of marching with excitement.

"It feels more like a real band now instead of just playing in the stands," said Joe Ottolino, a senior who plays the trombone.

"I think the attitude is really different now from last year," Macaluso said. "We're asking more and they're delivering more, and they like it."

Macaluso played the saxophone for the marching band at Georgia Tech, where he studied engineering and graduated in 2011. He also plays flute for the community ensemble Fanfare Concert Winds at Hillsborough Community College.

He joined the Jesuit faculty last year as the assistant to music director Nina Wegmann, who was his music teacher when he was a Jesuit student.

He has arranged the music and choreography for the new marching component himself, which "aren't expert because I've never done this before," he admits. But he has high hopes to grow the band, which is already up to 33 students from the start of the year, an increase from last year's athletic band.

That number includes three girls from the Academy of Holy Names, the all-girls school that has a partnership with Jesuit.

"I think everybody should have a chance to do marching band, even if your school doesn't have one," Macaluso said.

Jesuit junior Ryan Lerch, a saxophone player, is looking forward to showing off the band's moves at the season opener.

"I love playing at the football games," said Lerch. "We have a drum line, it'll look pretty neat. … It's loud and exciting and the fans usually get up and dance. It's just a good time."

The band will perform at halftime of Saturday's 8 p.m. game at Jesuit.

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