Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
They sound great, and now they have the rating to prove it.
The Portales High School marching band came away with a “One” or superior rating at the Southeastern New Mexico Music Educators Association District Marching Band Festival Tuesday at the Bulldog Bowl in Artesia. Bands are rated on a scale of 1-5 with one being superior.
According to band director Brandon Boerio, it is the first time in at least six years and possibly as many as 10 years that the PHS band has received that rating.
The 60-member Ram band performed Tuesday with 10 other high school bands from southeastern New Mexico including the likes of Clovis and Carlsbad. In addition to performances by each of the high school bands, the Eastern New Mexico University marching band also performed in exhibition.
Bands compete, not against each other at the festival, but individually for their rating. According to Boerio, the judges look at three categories during the performance. The first is music — how well it’s played and executed; the second is marching — are the band members’ strides uniform, how good are the forms (designs) made on the field and transitions from form to form; lastly they judge on general effect — the overall effect of the show.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Boerio. “The students have worked very hard.”
Boerio explained that last spring the concert band took a superior rating at a district concert competition and most of the students in that group are also in marching band and vowed to earn a superior rating this fall in marching band.
“We’ve worked our rears off,” said Boerio. “But it’s nice to be back at the level of when Mr. (John) Bealmar and other directors were here. We’re slowly getting back to that level.”
Boerio has been with the school district for three years, first as band director at Portales Junior High, and then with the high school starting last spring.
PHS drum major Jeremy Smith, a senior, was quick to mention Boerio as the key that unlocked the band’s potential.
“We were all very excited yesterday,” said Smith in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s been our goal to get a “one” and all the hard work has finally paid off. We finally have Portales back ranked as a superior band in New Mexico.”
“It’s a really great feeling after coming from last year to this year, and to know how much we’ve improved.” said senior drum major Autumn Wilkerson.
She noted the band’s motto of “Pride, Dedication, Excellence,” as one of the keys to success for the group this year. She says the first step was to have pride in the band, then dedicate yourself to it and the excellence will follow.
She says the band has been working extra hard this fall and has 7 a.m. practices before school.
“It’s an awesome climax to this marching season,” said Smith.
In addition to all the good news from the competition, the Ram band will host what they’re calling “Band Night” Friday at the football game at 7 p.m. at Greyhound Stadium. The high school and junior high bands will be on the field and performing together at halftime. The Lindsey Elementary School band will also be in attendance at the game. It’s also senior night for both band seniors and football seniors.
“It gives parents an opportunity to see all our students on the field at one time,” said Boerio. “We use it as a teaching tool to get the younger students excited about going on in band later.”