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Burroughs band to march in Sugar Bowl half-time show

Trip marks a turn around for a program that had previously struggled.

December 30, 2010|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

Members of the John Burroughs High School community will likely be glued to their television screens come Jan. 4. The Ohio State-Arkansas Sugar Bowl matchup promises to electrify football fans, but it's the half-time show Burroughs fans will be most excited about.

Seventy-five student musicians from John Burroughs will kick off the new year performing as part of an 800-member ensemble on national television during the BCS game.

"They are more excited than they can stand," said Marnye Langer, a band mother and president of the John Burroughs Instrumental Music Assn. Boosters Club.

It is a milestone event for the school's instrumental music program, which just four years ago was floundering with an enrollment of about 40 students, school officials and parents said. Today, it includes more than 100 students.

"We have developed a lot as a program in the last couple of years," band director Tana Barnett said. "We have grown to include a staff, and we have really excellent instruction in terms of instrumental music. The kids have become really good players."

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Planning for the Sugar Bowl performance began last spring when Barnett pitched the idea to parents at a boosters club meeting. It generated immediate buzz and set in motion an aggressive fundraising effort.

The total cost of the trip is about $135,000, Langer said, all of which has been raised by the students and their families. The boosters club worked hard to provide a lot of different fundraising opportunities, which have included concerts and a letter writing campaign.

Drum major Evan Jung, 17, said he is most looking forward to seeing the city of New Orleans for the first time.

"We were just surprised…when we realized we were going on such a big trip," Evan said. "I think it is one of the biggest things the band has ever done."

The trip marks a turnaround for a program, which was struggling when Barnett arrived four years ago, Langer said.

"The program has emerged much stronger and much more cohesive," Langer said. "The culture is shifting and we are getting more and more family involvement, and when the family is involved the student does even better."

Now, it is a great option for those who want to be involved with extracurricular activities, but who might not gravitate towards sports, she said.

"I think those teenager years are really tough, kids are moving into young adulthood and trying to figure things out," Langer said. "I think it is very important for young people to be involved in something."

Evan's father, Robert Jung, serves as the equipment manager for the Burroughs band and will be responsible for driving all of the instruments and uniforms across the country for the Sugar Bowl performance.

"As a parent, it has been the most the most wonderful experience to be involved with," he said. "The program is just growing by leaps and bounds."

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