Clovis High School’s band marches into the new school year with a history of playing big performances on big occasions.
Evidence of this hangs on the office wall of band director Esmeralda Rocha Lozano — “Ezzy” to her friends and “Lady Queen” to some members of the band.
One photo shows the Clovis High Band marching in the 1986 Rose Bowl Parade. Another photo captures the band at the 1981 inauguration parade of President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C.
There’s also a certificate of appreciation signed by President Gerald Ford, acknowledging the band’s “outstanding performance” when Ford visited Fresno in November 1974.
“I feel honored to be at a school with a record of such tradition,” Rocha Lozano said.
With it come high expectations.
“People really do bleed blue and gold,” she said. “They want to try to re-create that heyday, and we have to balance that against today’s reality.”
The snappy beat of the drum line tells us this is marching band season. Friday night lights will burn bright as high school bands in Clovis Unified School District fill football stadiums with fight songs and other rousing tunes. Saturdays will see the bands and color guards perform field shows in competitions filled with artistry and style. Beginning today and continuing for the next month, the Independent will profile each CUSD band – providing a look at their histories, their traditions and most importantly, the students who fill their ranks and the directors who lead them. The schools will be presented in the order they opened: Clovis High – Aug. 26 Clovis West – Sept. 2 Buchanan – Sept. 9 Clovis East – Sept. 16 Clovis North – Sept. 23
Clovis Unified School District now has five high schools. In the 1980s, there were only two.
Musicians, and musical talent, are now shared by all the high schools. Fundraising also is more difficult than in the past, Rocha Lozano said.
When she became head director in 2007, the band had 98 musicians and color guard members. This fall, 140 will march for Clovis High.
Rocha Lozano attributes the increase to strong music programs at the elementary and middle school programs that feed students to Clovis High. She restructured those programs after taking over in 2007.
“I’m really happy with where we are now and the direction of the program,” Rocha Lozano said.
140Number of students in Clovis High School marching band
“When our students graduate and leave our program, I know with all of my heart that we are sending off some amazing individuals [who] will do good things in this world.” — Rocha Lozano
She is starting her ninth year as head band director, first joining the Clovis High band staff in 2000 as a walk-on music coach working with the tuba and flute sections.
Growing up in Riverside, Rocha Lozano wanted to start playing the flute in fifth grade. But money in her family was tight, and she wasn’t sure she could afford an instrument.
Then one day, her mother brought an old flute to school. She’d purchased it at a pawn shop.
“Honestly, I would not be here as a teacher if it wasn’t for her gift,” Rocha Lozano said.
She later learned to play the piccolo, alto saxophone and tuba.
In high school, Rocha Lozano served as president of the band, and the band room was her second home and a refuge when racial tension led to fights on her campus.
She decided to attend Fresno State after getting a campus tour from a welcoming student named Wesley Luttrell, who, interestingly, had graduated from Clovis High.
While at Fresno State — where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees — Rocha Lozano marched with the Bulldog Marching Band and worked as an assistant to the secretaries in the band office. Head secretary Sonia Davis played a pivotal role.
“She took me in as her very own,” Rocha Lozano said. “I honestly feel that God has surrounded me with people who have helped lead me to where I am now, and for that, I am truly grateful.”
Karina Bustos (head) — “I was assistant drum major last year, and it was a good experience — getting to know every student in the band and opening up to everyone else.”
Alissa Guindy (assistant) — “My mom has high standards, and she wanted my brother, Kaleb, and me to get into music to keep us having high standards.”
Sarah Vasquez (color guard supervisor) — “At first, it was a place to belong, and then it turned into a passion for performance and being part of a team that loves you. Performing gives me confidence I wouldn’t have on a normal day.”
A voice from the band
De’Rod Ford, president of the band — “Playing music is really relaxing. Some people have therapy. I have playing music.”
Fall competition season
“Being a high school band director is crazy. Period. I ask myself time and time again, why do I keep on doing this? Then I think back and reflect on how much opportunity and growth it has provided me. I feel that my purpose now is to serve others the way others have served me and pay it forward to the students and families who walk in my door.” — Rocha Lozano
Entitled “Machine,” the production is designed to represent the Industrial Revolution. The show will feature metallic and factory sounds, and students in the band will represent workers, who build things on the field.
Some sections of the band huddle for prayer before a performance. Clarinet players go to Red Robin restaurant on the first Saturday practice. Trumpet players have a secret handshake before taking the field. These are only some of the band’s traditions.
Joseph Avery, Les Nunes and Christopher Watson serve as assistant directors. Other band staff are Phyllis Allen, Josh Andree, Christina Bellotta, Casey Boggs, Sonia Davis, Brian Dinkel, Tyler Durnell, Moises Fagundes, Rebekah Fleischer, Spencer Garcia, Eduardo Gomes Jr., Joseph Martinez, David Majors, Amy Pena, Kalvin Sirisukarn, Rachel Stratton, Elijah Turner and Kevin Vue.
Band Boosters Club
Terrie Ikeda, president
Narayana Adisasmito-Smith, Maximus Aldaz, Zackery Alvey, Peyton Anderson, Pete Arguijo, Albert Avery, Noah Avery, Isaac Baumheckel, Allison Bean, William Beckman, Eric Benitez, Daniel Blanco, Joseph Bocanegra, Meagan Botero, Matthew Bowman, Ryan Bowman, Nathaniel Brown, Abigail Brubaker, Karina Bustos and Mariah Byers.
Jaxon Carreno, Alyssa Castillo, Danny Castillo, Alex Cavagnaro, Kianna Cobarruvias, Jeffrey Corgiat-Cawelti, David Corum, Guadalupe Covarrubias Jr., Tanner Cowherd, Garrett Crain, Trinidad Cruz, Frank Deanda, Abbygail De Castro, Johnathan DeLeon, Ryelyn Desch, Ty Dinmore and Danielle Duchscher.
Aden Ellis, Ian Ellis, Victoria Espinoza, Eric Figueroa, Jonathan Flores, Matthew Flores, De’Rod Ford, Faythe Gallegos, Rebekkah Garcia, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Marina Gonzalez,Taylor Gott, Rachel Granillo, Alissa Guindy, Kaleb Guindy, Brandon Hatch, Haylie Henson, Charles Her, Alondra Hernandez, Alyssa A. Hernandez, Andrew Hinrichs and Aaron Ikeda.
Calvin Lancaster, Kassidy Lake, Tatiana Landeros, Nolan Lawrence, Alexis Lawson, Jared Lemon, Dustin Letson, Dwight Lewis, Cobi Linford, Esmeralda Madrigal, Angela Mai, Joseph Mauzy, Michael Mclaughlin, Jacob Mendoza, Isaac Meza, Blake Mills, Wesley Mills, Alondra Mora, Alejandro Munoz, Seth Morgan, Kaylyn Murray, Bryanna Navarro, Patricia Navarro, Austin Noronha and Pavel Novik.
Hector Olivera Chavez, Ariane Ortiz, Tyler Ortiz, Thomas Owen, Lucas Phillips, Daniel Poe, Zachary Poe, Eloy Porras, William Qualls, Cedrik Ramirez, Brianna Rangel, Zachary Ray, Juliana Reeves, Preston Ritter, Giulia Robles, Ethan Rodgers and Satyana Mirra Rye.
Jacob Sales, Ariana Sanchez, Gabrielle Sanchez, Xzavier Sandoval, Chris Santos, Mason Saul, Eric Sayles, Anthony Sayre, Joseph Sorensen, Wyatt Starr, Gabriella Stempien, Trevor Stinecipher, Jamie Sullivan, Gunnar Tapp, Mark Tripp, Alyssa Tucker, Elizabeth Villalobos, Sonny Vue, Sara Walker, Brandon Wilbur and Haille Williams.
Stephanie Acuna, Micaela Araiza, Heathur Autry, Lillie Cowherd, Natalie Curtis, Felicia Fontenot, Victoria Garcia, Baylee James, Paige Lanser, Jessie Lipe, Gillian Macy, Jessica McDuffee, Kaitlyn Moreno, Alejandra Obregon, Saul Ortiz, Katelyn Reeves, Caralynne Repucci, Nannett Retz, Jennifer Siechert, Michelle Stevens, Shelby Stratton, Lucy Vasquez, Sarah Vasquez, Alyssa Vidaurri, Kalista Vue and Elaina Yang.