The School Newspaper of West High School

West Signals

The School Newspaper of West High School

West Signals

The School Newspaper of West High School

West Signals

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The National Honor Society provides help in many AP exams. Tutors were assigned to one subject to improve their tutees experience, providing advice based on previous experience in each class. “I recommend coming to these AP cram sessions because you can receive help from students who have previously and recently taken the test,” NHS board member Katie Ho (12) explained.
Time to Cram!
Katelyn Baba, Staff Writer • May 9, 2024
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Torrance’s Armed Forces Day Parade Returns with West High Performances

Art/Photo by Lauren Ng
The West High Marching Band, Color Guard, and Drill teams all performed at Torrance’s annual Armed Forces Day Parade on May 20.

   Lawn chairs and American flags line the sidewalks of Torrance Boulevard. One household offers a blue bouncy house for the kids, and red Solo cups for the adults. Picnic blankets and prime parking spots are in high demand. Excitement is in the air, and communal pride is imminent.

   After a three-year hiatus, Torrance’s Armed Forces Day Parade – the oldest in the U.S. of its kind – was welcomed back on Saturday, May 20 for its 61st year. Multiple branches of the national military were represented in the parade, with the U.S. Coast Guard designated as the honored branch for this year. But what truly put the Torrance stamp on the parade was the presence of multiple local middle and high school bands – and for West High, not only our marching band, but our color guard and drill teams as well.

   Performing in the Armed Forces Day parade was a new experience for the current classes of West High. Drum Major Riyana Roy (12) shared that “the seniors this year were the only ones to have marched a parade [at Disneyland in 2020] so we had a lot of knowledge to pass on.” 

   Roy and West High Entertainment Unit Director Mr. Banim planned all of the logistics, from zero period practices to bus travel. The week before the parade, the band structured their marching block during zero period, in which all members are placed into rows and columns for consistency and timing. “We then march around the track as many times possible to help build stamina and practice keeping consistent lines and staying in step,” Roy explained.  

   According to Mr. Banim, the parade is “the only time the Torrance community sees us.” He reflected on how playing in the parade used to be a competitive feat; pushing the band to perform at their best, he holds his students in high regard.

   West High made its appearance in the prologue of the parade, following the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, several high-ranking military officers, and an impressive lineup of local and state officials. Several other Torrance middle and high schools also took part in the parade.

   Alto sax player and assistant saxophone section leader Haruto Asami (11) is no stranger to the parade. Since a young age, he has watched the parade many times: “I don’t think the parade itself has changed that much over the years, but my perception of it has definitely changed.” After performing this year, Asami affirmed that marching was somewhat of a demanding feat. The parade ran along Torrance Blvd. from Crenshaw Blvd. all the way to Madrona Ave., with band members in full uniform.

   Still, the parade holds a special meaning for Asami, whose mom “would watch the parade when [he] was a baby, specifically to scout which school would seem best for [him].” In fact, the parade is what led Asami to an elementary school that would eventually feed into West High. Coming full circle, “it was great to see my mom all happy and talkative about me being in the parade,” expressed Asami.

   The marching band was accompanied by members of West High Color Guard and Drill, who performed choreography during the parade. Guard Captain Isabel Hofmann (12) explained that both color guard and drill took part in some of the zero period band practices, working efficiently to prepare in limited time. Assistant Guard Captain Claire Perry (12) choreographed the routine. According to Hofmann, “it took [Perry] a couple days to choreograph and it took us less than a day to teach the rest of the team.”  

   Third-year drill member Hana Mizutamari (12) shared that the drill team used some of their choreography from the Disneyland parade last April to speed up the process: “There were many last minute changes, such as how the music was played without the cadence at the ending, but we were able to make adjustments on spot.” A trademark of any strong team, “we also just had to trust each other since we only had about 3 practices together until the performance,” she explained. 

   All teams were honored to take part in a citywide celebration of those serving our country. Hofmann added that “having many people from around Torrance coming to honor those who’ve served makes events like this more special.”

   The Armed Forces and Memorial Day holidays hold different meanings for different people – but for trumpet player Daniel Lowery (9), they mean family. “I’ve always had a sort of enchantment with the military,” said Lowery, whose family has a history of service. Inspired by the Air Force Band, he “thought it was the most amazing thing that we were going to be marching right next to a military procession.” Lowery appreciated how the parade fostered community amongst Torrance citizens: “It’s really one of the things that Torrance is known for, and it gives you a sense of pride to know that you’re representing your hometown.”

   Reflecting on her time in the Entertainment Unit, Roy expressed, “I think this was a really honorable way to step down as drum major. This band has so much to offer to everyone in it.” For seniors in band, the parade marked their last time in uniform – a performance of honor, pride, and community.

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About the Contributor
Lauren Ng
Lauren Ng, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Lauren Ng is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of West Signals and a senior at West High. This is her third year on staff. Passionate about the power of storytelling, Lauren is looking forward to collaborating with the Signals staff and sharing diverse stories with a growing audience. Aside from Signals, she is the President of CSF and Co-President of Choreo Club. Lauren also enjoys eating, cooking, reading, writing, and dreaming about food.