Clovis News

Golden Eagles perform to connect with crowds

The Clovis West band plays for family members during an exhibition at the school. Color guard members perform with flags in the background.
The Clovis West band plays for family members during an exhibition at the school. Color guard members perform with flags in the background. Doug Hoagland

The marching band at Clovis West High School wants audiences this autumn to hear more than music. The goal is to connect with crowds — make them feel something.

“It’s very important to us,” said band director John Lack. “Our students don’t use words. It’s their instruments. The drums. The trumpets. When they take the field, it’s about communicating their emotions to the audience.”

High schools like Clovis West — along with Buchanan, Clovis, Clovis East and Clovis North — present field shows in competitions that are sophisticated and artistic.

“It’s like going to see a Broadway musical or a symphony orchestra,” Lack said. “People are trying to tell a story.”

For now, Clovis West’s 2015 field show remains under wraps. Details will be released before the competition season begins in early October, Lack said.

For the next 2 1/2 months — culminating in competitions in Utah and Napa — students in the band and color guard will rehearse for hours during school, after school and on weekends.

“You train them so they can go out there with confidence and perform a show with people they care about and love,” Lack said. “Competitions are the intersection of a high level of performance and deeply bonded relationships.”

New band uniforms will add extra excitement this season. Michael Cesario, who has worked on Broadway shows and for elite drum and bugle corps, designed the uniforms. “We wanted something cutting edge that would pop under stadium lights at competitions,” Lack said.

Clovis West used $50,000 from the Clovis Unified School District to help pay for the new uniforms, but the band also raised money. CUSD is giving each high school band $50,000, one school per year.


“What we do in marching band is way more important than notes on a page. We want students to play the right notes, but we’re creating special memories and feelings that these kids can take with them for the rest of their lives.” — John Lack

Lack has led the band since the fall of 2007. He came to Clovis West from Mead High School in Spokane, Washington, where he was assistant director of instrumental music.

He grew up in Mead, a suburb of Spokane, and started playing clarinet in the fifth grade. He later played the alto saxophone, trombone and euphonium.

Lack’s father, Terry, was his band director in middle school and high school.

“I got to see the profession from all angles and got to be involved in my high school program on a deeper level than most typical band students,” Lack said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Whitworth University in Spokane and a master’s degree from Southern Oregon University.

For most of the decade between 1996 and 2006, Lack was a performer or an instructor with several drum and bugle corps. He performed with the Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps when the Concord-based group won the Drum Corps International’s World Championship in 1999.

Drum Majors

“I love the role of being a leader and inspiring others. I want to help the band become the best it can be. I love the people. When you’re with a group that loves to do the same thing as you, you just connect and it makes it worthwhile.” — Emma Boone

“I’ve always felt I had some say in most things I do, and I figured I could apply that to the band. The people are great, the experience is amazing and we have so many inside jokes.” — Faith Blackburn

Color Guard

“There’s this feeling I get when we go to the competitions. We huddle up, and our coach gives us a pep talk and I get a tingly feeling. And then we perform, and I feel so powerful. When I’ve mastered a difficult choreography, I feel I can reach more of my true potential.” — Gwyneth Quitorio (captain)

A voice from the band

“I enjoy the magic that happens when a group comes together to perform. And I love to march. It makes me feel really confident. You also make a lot of friends. For some people, that’s hard to do. In band, you’re with people all the time, and it’s easier to connect.” — Ben Tyson (senior and four-year band member)

Fall competition season

“Extremely busy. The busiest time of the year.” — Lack


Students get a lemon drop after performances — a tradition from Lack’s drum and bugle corps’ experience. Students, teachers and chaperones also play dodge ball when they travel. “It’s definitely a way for us to unwind,” Lack said.


Bryan Chesi serves as assistant director, and other staff members are Shae Ceballos, Sean Clark, Sarah Dezso, Roberto Hernandez, Adam Kehler, Amanda Martinez, Parker Nalchajian, Stephanie Perger, K.K. Sullivan and Elijah Turner.

Band Boosters Club

Susan Blackburn, president

Band and color guard members

Levi Acosta, Jeannette Aguilar, Hunter Akes, Ashley Anderson, Lilian ‘Lily’ Aravanis, Renan ‘Marcus’ Arredondo, Christopher Avery, Justin Babauta, Chandler Banta, Sophia Bautista, Emily Beauchamp, Donavin Beckman, Amanda Bennett, Alyssa Birges, Daron Birkholz, Faith Blackburn, Hannah Blair, Vincent Blancas, Emma Boone, Klarissa Borboa, Michael Borboa, Joelle Borchansky, Samuel ‘Sam’ Borunda, Marc Briones, Elton Brown, Heather Bryan and Micah Burgess.

Caleb Calderon, Gabriella ‘Gaby’ Camarillo, Hailey Campbell, Eden Carcamo, Daisy Castillo, Madison Castle, Tariq Chaoui, Annie Chen, Joshua Christiansen, Abigail ‘Abbey’ Clay, Andrew Corea, Meaghan Coyle, Hadley Daniels, Shelby Daniels, Robert ‘Robbie’ Darling, Celeste de Franchi, Jamie Del Carlo, Evan DenBesten, Jenny Dezso,

Jonathan Dezso, Neena Dosanjh, Jazmine Douglas, Christopher ‘C.J.’ Edmondson,

Yvette Estrada and Cameron ‘Cami’ Evaro.

Gavin Feliciallo, Emma Ferdinandi, Andrew Ferdinandsen, Cody Franz, Cristian Gallegos, Alijah Garcia, Andrea Garcia, Mattilynn ‘Matty’ Garcia, Oscar Garcia, Brandon Garza, Matthew Garza, Michael Gil, Natalie Goldsack, Stephanie Gonzales, Sydney Grim, Joe Guan, Madison Hammack, Mikenna Hammack, Caleb Harbin, Koby Hayashi, Astasia Hernandez, Logan Hernandez, Kurt Hildebrandt, Zane Hultquist,

Marissa Hurtado, Emma Imperial, Adrian Johnson and Tristin Jones.

Leon Kantikov, Colin Kodama, Paula Leyva, Janet Lin, Dayton Locke, Vincent Long, Charlie Lozano, Rhiannon Macias, Eric Mah, Michael Martinez, Reese Maupin, Justin McIntyre, Josue Medina, Alicia Mejia, Ashton Metheny, Javier Molina, Zaida Morales,

Aymee Moreno, Joleen Moreno, Maya Mullen, Sydni Mullen, Madalynn ‘Maddy’ Myers, Mary Myers, Tyler Nauheimer, Madison Nii, Yogeshwari ‘Anu’ Oka, Nicholas Ortiz, Emily Palmer, Hailey Parker, Harry ‘Key’ Poulan, Casey Powers, Liam Putnam and Gwyneth Quitorio.

Faiaz Rahman, Owen Ribera, Jadon Rice, Arianna Rivas, Samantha Robinson, Mario Rosales, Alyssa Saldivar, Jacob Sanchez, Santiago Segura, Joaquin Serrano, Hayden Simpson, Miles Austin Siy, Tyler Smith, Analicia Sosa, Jershon Standing, Cameron ‘Cammy’ Standriff, Samantha Still, Rachel Tarudji, Rebecca ‘Becca’ Teitelbaum, Ciarra Thacker, Aria Thao, Noah Troupe, Julia Trout, Taylor Tucker, Benjamin Tyson, Jacqueline ‘Jackie’ Uribe, Madison Venuto, Justin Vogel, Sherina Williams, Noel Winford, Chris Winzler, Meghan Winzler and Dawson Wright.