YLHS Band and Guard Travels to Hawaii for Spring Break Performances

 YLHS Band and Guard at Germaine’s Luau.

Kathleen Toblesky

YLHS Band and Guard at Germaine’s Luau.

Kathleen Toblesky, Photojournalist

If you watched the episode of Mustang Mix that aired just before the big Spring Vacation, then you probably remember most of the interviewed students in YL-On answered “Hawaii” when asked where they were going for break. Unsurprisingly, this was because most of the students were in our very own Band Room.


Over the break, the Band and Guard took an entire week-long trip to the Hawaiian island of Oahu (despite most answering with the incorrect answer of “the big one” in Mustang Mix in response to which island they were going to). The experience was full of native culture, history, and, of course, a good time.


They left for their trip early Saturday morning, arriving at school to meet up and check in with Mr. Garcia, the Band Director, at the wonderful hour of 3 AM. Despite being groggy and snappy, the students were excited to get on their way to the tropical islands, many for the first time. Once they landed  from their 5 and a half hour flight, they unpacked in their rooms- separated by floor for the boys and girls- and then had time to explore the various shops along the beach.


The next day, they had some well-deserved beach-time. After all, what’s Hawaii without its beautiful beaches? Band kids need to get tan somehow! Later that day, they went to something extra special: Germaine’s Luau! If a big party with amazing food and cool fire dancers weren’t enough, the Luau’s guests had an even greater treat: Mr. Garcia dancing with one of the hula dancers. Roaring laughter could be heard emanating from the band as he showed his skilled moves. And, of course, band kids would be more than happy to point you in the direction of someone who recorded the whole thing.


After that full night of fun, they headed off to Waikiki’s local Aquarium. While it’s nowhere near as big as Long Beach’s, it still holds many beautiful creatures inside, many only native to the Hawaiian islands.


However, this was not just a leisurely vacation. These performers had two shows to give their all for.


The first took place on Monday afternoon, right after the Aquarium at the local Blue Note. For those who are unfamiliar with the music industry, fear not. The Blue Note is a renowned jazz club with locations all across America, though the most famous is the one in New York. The performances included Jazz 1 and an octette (a group of 8 performer), which even included two members from YLHS’s orchestra!


While the first few days had multiple excursions stuffed into the day, Tuesday was exclusive to one: a day-long ride on a catamaran. During this ride over the crystal blue waters, they visited the world’s largest sandbar, reaching an incredible measurement of 6 miles long and one mile wide. Some students tried to walk across it, but it proved too long to achieve within the limits of supervision. Since the water was only two feet deep, they had a friendly competition in a wet game of volleyball.  


But that’s not all: they even went  snorkeling by some beautiful reefs and get up close to majestic sea turtles and colorful schools of fish.


Wednesday turned out to be a much busier day than the rest. This day was jam packed with Pearl Harbor, a nearby swap meet, the Diamond Head hike, and, of course, their last parade of the year.


And finally, the trip came to a close with their last full day. Thursday started off with an island bus tour, which included a lava formation across a beach, a Buddhist temple, locations that have been used for movie sets (such as “Lost,” the original “Karate Kid,” or “Jurassic Park), and the Dole Plantation, where they tried their hand at the world’s largest maze. They finished off the day with a lovely dinner cruise on a yacht.


Friday was the day YL’s wonderful performers finally came home. They packed, bought a few more souvenirs, then boarded their red eye flight to arrive on Saturday morning.


Two years prior, in spring of 2017, they also took a trip to San Francisco, which also centered around a parade performance for the program (this particular one was for Chinese New Year). The Jazz Band also has annual performances in Reno, several hours north of home. But this Hawaii trip was different than any old excursion. Garcia had this plan in the works for years. It goes without saying that something like this comes with a lot of planning and expenses. All those moving parts with half the program and multiple chaperones- not to mention legal workings of having the students so far from home without their parents present- are a lot to handle.


Overall, these students had a wonderful time, as busy as it was. They can say for certain that it was an experience that they wouldn’t forget anytime soon.