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DELANO RAMBLINGS: Parade honor for local band director delayed by pandemic

Brenda Perry-Reed, band and music director at Cecil Avenue Math and Science Academy in Delano, has won an honor that has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was selected by the Michael D. Sewell Foundation to march with the Band Directors Marching Band that will be part of the Saluting America’s Band Directors entry, which includes the marching band and a float. Originally scheduled to take part in this year’s Pasadena New Year’s parade, the entry has been moved to the 2022 event.

Each participant basically sponsors himself/herself or gains individual sponsors for the trip costs.

The Delano musician says there is a big difference between marching a parade route and just walking. She says that since the fall of 2016 when her daughter left for college that she began walking/jogging and has progressed to 5k and 10k events, even completing a half marathon. The parade route is five miles of marching and playing an instrument.

“The parade travels at about 2.5 miles an hour. I know I can walk that,” she said. "My fear has been marching and playing that distance at my age with rheumatoid arthritis.” She said she began extending to four or five times a week walks over 3 miles with one 5-plus mile walk every two weeks in March 2020.

Perry-Reed said postponement of the parade did take away her commitment along with “the blues everyone has been experiencing due to the shutdowns and such.” She said she is trying to get back to her program and has set a new course and wearing a mask not only for PPE but in hopes that the mask will help her develop the respiratory stamina that she will need.

She said that fellow music educator Arnold Morrison was in the Rose Bowl Parade as a high school student in the Los Angeles area when the route was over 9 miles.

With 15 years of experience with the Cecil band, Perry-Reed said that learning takes place among musicians in addition to simply walking.

“First and foremost there is no ‘simply walking’ involved," she said. "Students learn appropriate body position for marching, which foot to begin on, how to use spatial memory to maintain appropriate columns, rows and diagonals, how to utilize peripheral vision to assist in position, how to assist one another in a helpful and motivating manner, how to be an independent member within a large group, and why every members is valuable to the final product.

“They learn that they represent themselves, their families, their school district and their community each time they are in public performing.”

The students are also advancing their skill set on their chosen instrument.

Delano’s Cinco de Mayo event has already canceled for this May, Philippine Weekend plans to move from summer to fall and to drop the parade, and Harvest Holidays is questionable about including a parade in October.

Perry-Reed said that if local parades were all eliminated, Cecil band would continue. “We would find out-of-town parades to participate in and continue our campus and elementary campus march-arounds as skill building for our students.”

She reports that husband John and children Jenny, Alex, Bekah and Josh have supported her over the years in too many ways to document.

“I feel that each year I have been a band director has helped me earn this opportunity, and in that way all of my former students and their families have helped make this happen as well. I would like to give a special shout out to Delano Kiwanis Club which helped me get the opportunity to attend the Rose Parade."

She said that when she mentioned at a Kiwanis meeting of her interest in being in the parade, within a week she had reserved bleacher seats and watched the parade with Kiwanis from across the country. “After being there, I came home and prepared my application and essay.”

In the history of the parade, no entry has ever taken part that houses both a float and a marching band.

The entire band will not be rehearsing together until members arrive in Pasadena three days before the parade. She believes that she will be playing the clarinet.

The pandemic has led to her “missing” many things. “I have learned that my fellow educators are more resilient and flexible than any of us ever imagined.”

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Seniors in the three Delano high schools have the opportunity to return to in-person learning starting April 26.

Half the seniors will be present that week on Monday and Tuesday with the other half at home receiving the same lesson by live streaming. Seniors switch on Wednesday and Thursday with Friday and the next Monday going back to the group that first attended in person the week before.

The high school district started Phase 1 on March 8 and Phase 2 on March 22, and then April 19 brings back to the classroom English learners. Phase 4 is seniors returning to the classroom.

About 600 Delano High students were invited to school one of four evenings before spring break to pick up honors medals and gold ribbons if they earned a 4.0 or above grade point average, a gold medallion for 4.0, silver medallion for 3.5 to 3.9 or bronze medallion for 3.00 to 3.49.

The awards covered the spring semester of 2019, both semesters of the 2020-21 school year and the fall semester of 2021. Seniors in some cases earned four medals while juniors earned up to three, sophomores up to two and freshmen up to one award. Vehicles entered the campus and circled the auditorium to stop and have awards given, yard signs if not previously picked up, an ice cream bar, a microphone announcement about the student by an administrator, and then driving forward to a stop in front of an inflatable tiger and a scholar sign, backdrops for a picture of the senior and/or their families.

Cesar Chavez and Robert F. Kennedy high schools had similar recognition of their scholars.

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Charlie Gutierrez called me recently to report on his survey of more than 20 patients of Dr. Bernardino.

Results showed remarkable outcomes from prevention and treatment of many of his patients in regard to COVID-19.

It seems that the doctor has tried to contact Congressman Kevin McCarthy and the medical community about the positive results and Dr. Bernardino’s means of accomplishing remarkable results.

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I was very appreciative when Sharon (Davis) Fendrick, Delano High Class of 1971, and Gail (Davis) Moody, Delano High Class of 1973, recently left on my front step and called me that they were turning over the 1956, 1955, 1954, and 1953 Delano High yearbooks of the late Wanda Davis.

In the past I have sold yearbooks for $20 and turned over the funds to the Delano High cheerleader treasury, and the sisters said that was okay. IF anyone is interested in one or more of the yearbooks, call me at 725-8803.

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Individuals, organizations, and businesses that might wish to fund scholarships for deserving Delano High seniors are asked to contact head DHS counselor Sandra Oropeza by no later than May 1.

Those interested may reach her at 720-4133. She needs to finish by May before the senior awards assembly.

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Cameron Huerta, offensive player of the year in the South Sequoia football league in the fall of 2019 for Cesar Chavez High, is now enrolled at Shafter High and playing wide receiver.