Band-Aid solution


POSTED: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

At Waianae High School the band is missing.

It is absent from football games and elective class lists and hasn't been in a big parade in the past two decades. But Darren Serra, the band director for Waianae Intermediate School, and some strong-willed Waianae youth are trying to change that.

After several high-schoolers came to Serra for guidance when the Waianae band program was shut down last year, they decided to create a marching band that included both intermediate and high school students. “;I don't want to be the permanent solution to this problem,”; Serra said. “;But these kids came to me for help. I told them if they were up for the challenge, I was, too.”;

Serra was thinking of forming an intermediate school marching band. “;My plan was put into action early,”; he said.

The program started with 11 kids. “;They would tell their friends about it, and it kept growing,”; Serra said. Now the band includes more than 50 members, who practice for two hours twice a week.

Currently, the high school students receive no course credit for their hours, though Serra hopes to change that in the future.

After just a few months of practice, the band has pulled it together and will be marching Saturday at the Aloha Festivals' floral parade. The ensemble includes musicians, hula dancers and a color guard.

Drum major Wayne Kaululaau Jr., a senior who transferred to Waianae High from Kamehameha Schools this year, helped pull everything together. “;It feels really good helping everyone,”; he said. “;I'm privileged that I could help start this program.”; Kaululaau had three years of band experience at Kamehameha.

Bryor Kaliko, a Waianae senior, was looking forward to showcasing his band talents for another year. Since the program closed at the high school, he is grateful to be a part of Serra's program. “;It's been a challenge to get synchronized. It took lots of communication to get everyone on the right foot.”;

Although Kaliko's college plans are not yet cemented, he knows music will be a part of the plan. “;Music is a big part of my life,”; he said.

Freshman Dayton Quizon is also appreciative. “;The high school ... has ROTC and a bunch of other programs, but I really hope they put a band program back at the high school for us who are interested in music,”; he said.

Eighth-grader Pearl Lima-Po likes having the older kids around. “;They are good role models and teaching us how to be more mature. We have older people to look up to,”; she said.

Serra has been amazed at the outpouring of community support. “;Every part of the band has an expert that has come and helped us,”; he said.

Practice sessions around the intermediate school campus entice cheers from onlookers, from “;You guys rock!”; to “;We are so proud of you. ... Show your school pride!”;

Donations have helped, too, he added. Kamehameha Schools donated the flags for the color guard. Leilehua and Mililani high schools loaned equipment, too.

For his part, Serra is not receiving any compensation for his work with the kids.

“;It's neat to see so many people helping us,”; he said. “;The more, the merrier. It's taking on a life of its own.”;

And the kids' progress has been amazing, he added. “;They have gone from playing 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' to music performed by the Royal Hawaiian Band.”;

They will be performing the songs at least 30 times over the stretch from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park, which causes a little anxiety and an abundance of excitement.

Eighth-grader Taase Taofi has only watched a parade from the sidelines.

“;We only started practicing at the end of summer,”; she said. The experience has allowed her to make new friends. “;I thought it might be boring, but it is killers,”; she added.

Serra hopes that the community can see that music should be a part of education. “;These kids want opportunities. I'd like to see how far they can go. We won't stop with one parade. I want them to do traditional sit-down concerts and more parades,”; he said.

Serra is trying to teach the youth a lot more than music through his lessons.

“;Everyone likes music,”; Serra said. “;I'm trying to teach the kids teamwork and appreciation for what they can accomplish. If they are able to do this, they can do anything.”;






» When: 9 a.m. Saturday


» Where: Along Kalakaua Avenue, from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park