WKAR's Katie Cook visits the final rehearsal at the school before the band makes the trip to Washington D.C.
The Everett High School band room is buzzing with excitement.
The band was invited to participate in the Presidential inauguration festivities this year, and it’s their final rehearsal at the school before they make the trip to Washington DC.
In November, band director Penny Filonczuk applied for the band to participate in the Inauguration festivities. Then in December, she got the call that they were invited to play in the Welcoming Concert on Thursday, the day before the Inauguration.
“I was quite surprised and almost was taken aback, and kinda thought, ‘uh, is this for real?’” says Filonczuk.
The students’ reactions to this invitation were much like their director’s.
“I was the first one that Filonczuk called and I was laying in bed and I popped up screaming, ‘no way! No way!’ just like a little girl. And I was excited and I was very proud of my band,” says Drum Major Charles Timms II.
Trombone player Kamile Ruiz remembers when she heard the news. “I was like, ‘oh my gosh this is my first time going to DC!’ I was excited,” she says.
Ruiz says people have questioned her about why the band is going, in light of the controversial President-elect.
“A lot of people keep saying, ‘why are you guys going and doing this for Drumpf?’ It’s kinda for him but not really. It’s basically for everyone, to me. We’re not doing it just for him.”
Snare drum player Kira Rivet says they’re not really playing for "Drumpf" at all.
“We just happen to be at the inauguration where he is getting elected, because whether he’s getting elected or Hillary was getting elected, we would be there. Or, if neither of them got elected, we would still be there. So, we just want to go and play and have the experience of being in DC.”
It’s not about politics for Charles Timms, either.
“I see it as performing with a group of people that I love, performing and doing what I love to do, and that is music. And yes, I do see it as performing in front of the President and the country, but just having that experience in performing- anywhere I’m performing it’s a great experience. Even if it’s on the street corner, or in front of the United States,” he says.
Ruiz says playing at the inauguration means a lot to her.
“A couple years from now when everyone’s grown and has their own family, you get to tell your kids, ‘I did this when I was your age.’”
Rivet agrees. “I feel like we’re a part of history and making history at Everett. We’re the first band at Everett to go to the Inauguration. And also, since this is such a weird election, it’s going to be a big part of history that everyone’s going to remember.”
The concert will take place in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and a total of twelve groups will perform. Filonczuk says most of the songs they’ll be playing are ones they already know well. But not all.
“The kids did have to learn one new song, the Grand Old Flag song. We had to order that and get it memorized and they did that in about a week. So, it’s been quite exciting to see them work really hard for something.”
The band has had to raise money to send all 47 members to DC, and they haven’t yet met their goal. Parents, along with local businesses and other members the community, came together for the effort.
Filonczuk says, “it’s been a big blessing to see the community reach out to these kids and give them this opportunity.”
You can donate here to help the Everett High School Viking Marching Band raise the rest of the funds they need.