Del Valle Marching Band director, Manuel Gamez has taken the band to the state competition three times – in 2003, 2005, and 2009. (William Blackburn/

High school marching-band students strive and strain to reach the state finals

EL PASO — The Socorro Activities Complex in east El Paso is filled with the blasting excitement of drums, brass and cheers on a warm Saturday afternoon in October as excited spectators root for area high school marching bands competing for a chance to appear at the state level in San Antonio. The Del Valle high school band has been rehearsing for this competition since August, practicing long hours every day, learning their marching steps and the music. It’s fun and it’s challenging. Aaron Gomez a sophomore told Borderzine “I enjoy learning new music and music is my passion and after high school I want to study music and receive a degree from a four-year university.”

Alex Verdugo, a senior leader for the French horn section said, “I motivate students and assist the band directors in what needs to be done.” He became a section leader through a lot of practice and auditioning for the job, he said. Juan Palacios a junior leader for the trumpets section said, “It’s a lot of hard work, but it is worth it in the end.”

Christina Boatman a sophomore told Borderzine she thinks Del Valle is the best band and “…the feeling that you gave it your all on the field is indescribable.”

Cindy Cruz a senior said the band also helps students with academics and she will miss being in the band after she graduates.