Sunday, March 29, 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

Distance learning begins as Covid-19 thrives

What we learn during & from coronavirus, a challenging & imminent crisis, will provide insights into so many aspects of our lives.

Calif. h.s. choir sings with social distancing

Performances with the assistance of technology can spread inspiration across the globe even as the coronavirus spreads illness and disease.

Families plan to stay healthy during closures

Although schools are doing what they can to keep students learning and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, that duty now shifts to parents.

Illinois temporarily closes all schools

IL schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 17, through at least March 30. Schools in 18 states are now closed due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus closures & cancellations

Many schools are closed and sports tournaments cancelled across America during what the president called a national emergency: coronavirus.

Coronavirus closes schools in Seattle

The coronavirus pandemic has caused colleges to cancel classes, and now Seattle Public Schools became the nation's first large district to cancel classes due to the virus.

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

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.