Ne­wark Char­ter heads to Lon­don

March­ing band will per­form in pa­rade, con­cert

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

For the Ne­wark Char­ter School stu­dents head­ing to Lon­don to march in the New Year’s Day pa­rade next week, it feels like a long time com­ing.

“For the se­niors, they are the kids that I’ve been teach­ing since they were in fourth grade. So I’ve taught them for the bet­ter part of half their life,” said Sam DeLuca, band di­rec­tor. “This is kind of like that mo­men­tous, ‘We got here.’ Like I never would have ex­pected or thought that we would ever got­ten here when I started teach­ing those young fourth graders, nine years ago.”

Bri­tish of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the deputy lord mayor of Lon­don, trav­eled to Ne­wark last fall to for­mally in­vite the NCS band to join 8,000 other par­tic­i­pants from 20 coun­tries march­ing in the pa­rade.

After a year of pre­par­ing for the oc­ca­sion, the band mem­bers are head­ing to Lon­don this week to per­form at St. John’s Smith Square on Satur­day and march in the New Year’s Day Pa­rade in front of mil­lions.

“It’s or­ga­nized chaos, and it’s kind of what I thrive on,” DeLuca said of the prepa­ra­tion.

Out­side of book­ing flights and ho­tels for the 57 band mem­bers – plus an­other 40 par­ent chap­er­ones, ad­min­is­tra­tors and oth­ers – there has also been the prepa­ra­tion of the mu­sic it­self.

For at least an hour each Wed­nes­day, the band came to­gether to prac­tice. DeLuca said that they some­times met more fre­quently, on top of reg­u­lar class­room re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and putting on a con­cert for the school.

The band pre­pared four songs – “Moon­rise and Dance,” “Am­ber Moon,” “Fire Dance” and “At Sun­rise” – which show­case the dif­fer­ent groups of mu­si­cians.

“I’ve got a very strong low brass sec­tion go­ing, so I’m able to fea­ture them,” she said. “It’s been re­ally cool to see how I’ve taken a bunch of kids, some who’ve played to­gether and some who’ve never played to­gether, and thrown them to­gether to do this re­ally, re­ally great con­cert.”

DeLuca added that this is an ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time for the stu­dents.

“I do hope that some­day they look back and go, ‘Yeah, my band went to Lon­don. It was so cool.’ I hope that that’s the ex­pe­ri­ence they get,” she said. “My hus­band went on this trip with A.I. DuPont High School and he still talks about it. It’s 25 years later.”

The ex­cite­ment wasn’t lost on se­niors Bren­dan Wil­son and Gwen Ryan.

Ryan, a drum ma­jor who also plays flute and pic­colo, said they spent a lot of time work­ing to reach this point. She likened it to sixth grade, when the class saved up for a trip to Dis­ney World.

“We didn’t think we would ac­tu­ally get there and then we went to Dis­ney,” she said. “When we heard we were go­ing to Lon­don, it was re­ally shock­ing be­cause we didn’t re­al­ize that we’d be able to do some­thing like that.”

Wil­son, who plays bari­tone, agreed.

“It re­ally shows how much we’ve im­proved since start­ing the band,” he said. “A lot of us have been in band since fourth grade, and it re­ally shows our im­prove­ment.”

Wil­son was look­ing for­ward to march­ing in the pa­rade and the planned sight­see­ing, while Ryan said she was most look­ing for­ward to the per­for­mance at St. John’s.

“There’s sup­posed to be per­fect acous­tics, and I think it’s go­ing to sound re­ally cool,” she said.

Both noted what a young band they are.

“We didn’t re­ally think any­thing like this would hap­pen while we were in school be­cause we’re only the third grad­u­at­ing class, so we’re a re­ally new high school, so we didn’t think we would come this far this quickly,” Ryan said.

DeLuca em­pha­sized how proud she is of the stu­dents.

“They have worked so hard and they’re so ded­i­cated to this,” she said. “I’m so proud of each and ev­ery sin­gle one of them for do­ing this.”

Both per­for­mances will be streamed live.

On Dec. 30, at 2:30 p.m. EST, the con­cert per­for­mance at St. John’s Smith Square can be viewed at tinyurl.com/NCSatStJohns.

On New Year’s Day, the pa­rade can be viewed at tinyurl.com/NCSinLon­don start­ing at 7 a.m. EST.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The Ne­wark Char­ter march­ing band will per­form at St. John’s Smith Square and march in the New Year’s Day Pa­rade in Lon­don next week.

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