Monday, January 20, 2020
US flag

76 trombones possible in U-46 unified marching band

For the first time since 2008, the high schools in Illinois’s second-largest school district combined forces to make a mega-marching band for a Thanksgiving parade in Chicago, the Elgin Courier-News reports.

(School District U46)

The 566-member marching band, designated as the School District U-46 Unified Marching Band, brought student-musicians and marchers from the district’s five high schools—Bartlett, Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin, and Streamwood—to the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 22 buses. There were 101 clarinetists, 79 flutists, 83 trumpeters, and almost 100 percussionists.

The unified band participated in the 2008 parade, but that group didn’t have more than 500 members. This group may have been the largest marching band ever to participate in the parade, but there’s really no way to know that for certain.

“We’re so lucky we had good weather,” the paper quoted Jaimie Abney-Giraldo, the district’s fine arts coordinator, as saying. “I’ve done that parade in freezing conditions, and it can get difficult to make the instruments play in the cold.”

None of the five band directors were part of the 2008 unified band, Ms Abney-Giraldo said, and it wasn’t known when the group would be brought together again. “We’ve been getting that question a lot,” she said.

School District U-46, based in Elgin, serves more than 39,000 students and is the largest district in Illinois outside Chicago. In addition to the five high schools, the district also includes eight middle schools, 39 regular elementary schools that include eight pre-K programs, and other education centers.

The district’s CEO, Tony Sanders, has been a persistent lobbyist both in Washington and Springfield, working toward more equitable school funding for Illinois children and schools.

His participation in the White House’s Rethinking School Discipline conference in 2015 represented Illinois well—suspension rates in U-46 schools are lower in recent years, thanks to staff working with and supporting students, despite an 11.8 percent chronic truancy statistic.

That number counts students who miss more than 5 percent of the school days without a valid excuse. For comparison purposes, Naperville Community Unit School District 203 (~16,600 students) reports a chronic truancy rate of 0.6 percent, and Chicago Public Schools (~383,000) reports a chronic truancy rate of 34.3 percent.

A little more than 60 percent of the students in District U-46’s schools are designated as low-income students.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.