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Walnut valley Unified School District

ALLmeansALL! Walnut Valley USD is proud to be a National Schools to Watch District with numerous National Blue Ribbon, California Gold Ribbon, and California Distinguished School awards. Our motto is KIDS FIRST... Every Student, Every Day!  

Blue Thunder Band Buddies

NEWS                                                                                        Walnut Valley Unified School District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 880 S. Lemon Avenue
April 26, 2012                                                                           Walnut, CA 91789

Kelli Gile, Office of Community Resources
(909) 595-1261 ext. 31204

Blue Thunder Band Buddies
Walnut High band members mentor young musicians

WALNUT, CA--Walnut High School’s Blue Thunder Marching Band is making beautiful music with local elementary students.

About 150 fifth grade students participating in the Band Buddies program have been practicing for a combined concert on the Walnut High stage.

Young musicians from Collegewood, C.J. Morris, Vejar, Westhoff, and Walnut Elementary Schools rehearsed at Walnut High on March 20, 27, April 17, and 24 from 3:30 p.m.- 5 p.m. 

All of the musicians performed in a Spring Concert on April 25 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center

“We want them to get a taste of high school band so that they continue to be excited about band in middle school and beyond,” said Band Director Corey Wicks.
During rehearsals 50 Blue Thunder buddies sat side-by-side with the young musicians.

“They have had a wonderful experience performing on stage with the high school band,” Wicks said.

They got to know each other and the elementary students gained confidence, he said.

The combined ensemble performed Bleacher Boogie, Over the Rainbow, and Battle Hymn of the Republic at the concert.

“I like Band Buddies because it gives us an opportunity to interact with 5th graders and teach them things they don’t know, “ said Walnut High sophomore flutist Jane Lee.

“The best part is to help them get better and better at each rehearsal!” the second year member said.

C.J. Morris saxophone player Benson Yu said he liked being in Band Buddies and was excited to perform in the concert.

“I think it’s fun and it teaches us other things that are important,” he said during the final rehearsal on April 24.
Walnut High junior flutist Katie Takahashi launched the outreach program for elementary students last year with her twin brother Alex, a trumpet player.

“The best part of the experience is playing with high school students. Most of the time they really don’t know what their instrument is supposed to sound like. Playing with more advanced players gives them the opportunity to improve,” she said.

Takahashi’s favorite tip that she likes to share with the young musicians is to “sit up straight and blow through your horn!”

The most rewarding thing is seeing how the 5th graders improve and knowing that they do continue in the middle school music programs, she said.

“And hopefully we’ll see them here in a couple of years!” she said.

“It’s just really fun playing music with the high schoolers,” said Hugo Seto, a Vejar Elementary trumpet player.

“And the best part is learning the new music and becoming a better player,” he said.

Freshman Catherine Lu said she joined the Band Buddies program because she really loves band.

“I wanted to interact with elementary school kids so they can learn more about band and in a few years they can come to the Walnut High Blue Thunder Band!” she said.

Walnut High sophomore French horn player Sirena Chu said her instrument isn’t offered at the elementary level but she knows that she has played an important role in the ensemble.

“It’s a good thing to introduce them to different instruments,” the first year member said.

“And that playing music is a cool thing to do!”

For more information about this program, please contact Call Corey Wicks at (909) 595-1261 ext. 34310.


Walnut High sophomore flutist Amy Wang rehearses with Ananie Hwang from Collegewood and Annie Li from Vejar.  

Saxophone players Walnut High freshmen Wyatt Swift-Ramirez and Juan Aranda rehearse with Vejar Elementary 5th grader Coby Fan. 

Band Director Corey Wicks with students in concert ready position during the final rehearsal on April 24. 

Suzanne Band Director Jeff Blackstone led students during the rehearsal for Bleacher Boogie.  

Vejar flutists Aaron Kao and Patrick Song Martinez at final rehearsal on April 24.

Members of the Band Buddies program on stage during their final rehearsal on April 24. 

Band Buddies member C.J. Morris fifth grader Benson Yu practices before the final rehearsal begins on the Walnut High Performing Arts Center stage.