Always Bittersweet

For our Scripps Ranch High School column this year, four seniors share the writing duties. This allows the community to get “A Look Inside” SRHS and life as a teen in Scripps Ranch from different and unique perspectives. This month Docean Park looks at an activity that, while it consumed so much of her time, she will look back on fondly.


When people ask me why I do marching band, I can never really give a reasonable explanation or at least one that adequately gives light to the motives behind it. Some people never understand why we devote so many hours to the same 10 minutes of music or why we choose band in the first place, especially when there are other activities that are not as time consuming and physical education credit could be more easily attained in regular P.E. classes.

I admit that sometimes I do not understand it either. I dreaded the lengthy practices and the ache in my body and lack of sleep as a result. However, I believe that if I was given another chance to choose, I would make the same choice.

Marching band season starts at the end of summer with band camp for five days—eight hours a day—of drilling, marching, and conditioning in preparation for a 10-minute show that we will perform at tournaments. Each show has a theme, and a show is given choreography, music, and visual effects based on that theme. Last season we were African tribal warriors, fierce, confident, and proud. This season we were representations of memories, a little more abstract and nostalgic.

A band can have as few as 20 students or a many as 200 or more. Our band is on the smaller side, compared to the likes of Mira Mesa and Westview high schools, as we often have no more than 70 members each year. The beauty of marching band, however, is that regardless of its size, every individual is important. I played the vibraphone for two years.

Each person is a dot in a bigger picture, a component of a story. Someone out of step, out of line, out of tune is bound to catch the eye of a judge and reflect on the overall score of the ensemble. For months we practice the same 10 minutes of music, but for every second of those 10 minutes, we must all move in sync, at the right pace, at the right intervals, and in the right spots. It is the ultimate team that requires the most incredible teamwork.

After the initial month of preparation, coordination, and performances at football game halftimes, we start to travel and compete at other schools. It is easy to tire out, get lost, and forget what we are working toward. This is especially true as classes begin and after-school practices increase as much as 14 hours a week before tournament days

Little moments give calm to the madness. Running around the quad in the dark after a football game. Laying on the field with abandon after a full run. Arguing over the quality of Arrowhead versus Kirkland water. Blinking into the bright stadium lights. Standing erect, chin up and chest out, gazing up at a big, waiting crowd. Huddling after a performance, exhausted, exhilarated, and breathless. Walking off the field for the last time, knowing we would never perform that show again or with that group of people.

These are little, snapshot things. But for me, they are what I remember most and what made the bigger, more overwhelming aspects, a little more bearable.

All things come to an end. It is an obvious fact that we all learned and realized in the back of our minds. Still, we feel suspended in time, as though a moment might never end or a ride might go on forever. Yet we must straggle off that bus, say our goodbyes, and that moment, once so vivid against our eyelids, becomes a soft, distant memory. When we look back on it, we often do not remember the hardship we endured as much as we remember the happiness we felt or the accomplishments we achieved.

Although I welcomed that first week of December in which the season ended with relief, I could not deny the slight sadness that I felt for the people I would no longer perform with, the music that I would eventually forget, and another chapter that has ended. Letting go of a familiar life so that a new life may unfold is a process that may always be bittersweet.

Docean Park, SRHS Senior