CCHS has a variety of large clubs, one of the most prominent being the Sound Of Pride (SOP). SOP is Cooper’s resident student orchestra that could be seen– and heard– at the annual pep rally held during homecoming week, performing a circus-themed show with the performers’ faces covered in black and white paint.
The band was invited to perform at the 2018 London New Year’s Day Parade in 2015, and has won a plethora of awards, which can be seen as plaques hanging on the walls of the band room or in the form of roughly a dozen trophies. More than just shiny decorations, the awards can be seen as recognition of SOP’s hard work and dedication.
Obviously, earning and maintaining the status of a respected and acclaimed band wasn’t easy for SOP, and is the result of hours of practice by the roughly 120 members of the band, who have to balance academic work and band practice.
“We have two rehearsals from 5 – 9 p.m. every week, and several [weeks] where we have practice on Saturdays too,” junior Christopher Santana said. “It’s certainly possible to balance band and school, but it requires planning because it sucks to get home after practice and do homework.”
Being that CCHS is generally an academically competitive school, it makes sense that a fair percentage of SOP members take several AP classes and have rigorous schedules. For many members, balancing SOP and schoolwork, both of which demand several hours of a student’s time, isn’t the easiest of tasks.
“It’s the worst. I schedule everything around band, even my family,” senior Andrea Garza said. “Around three-quarters of my summer is devoted to 9-to-9 band camps, and my school days are scheduled based on if I have band or if I have it after school. It’s one or the other. It’s a lot of work and it’s really stressful, but performing and going to the competitions and doing what I love makes it all worth it.”
While being a relatively accomplished band, SOP has had their fair share of hiccups over the years. There’s a running joke among senior members: “four-for-four.” That refers to the fact that the SOP has had to replace a band director every year up until this school year. Danielle Singer, SOP’s current band director, is the first in the past three school years to retain her position as SOP’s band director for the current senior class.
“I schedule everything around band, even my family.”
“After already being through two band directors, we really didn’t know what was going to happen,” Garza said. “But then we got Ms. Singer and so there was always this joke going around the band called four-for-four, meaning, if she leaves, then we’ll have a fourth band director. There was a lot of stress among the band because we really didn’t have any consistency, and it was really stressful. But [the situation] definitely improved, and I’m really happy we went through it.”
As well as inside jokes that only an SOP member would understand, members of SOP also hold traditions, such as a song they sing before competitions they call “Band Song.”
“‘Band Song’ is this really old tradition that we have. It’s this song that we sing before competitions, and it’s supposed to symbolize how we’re all family and how we’ve all been through things together and how we’re going to accomplish everything together,” Garza said. “We sing it together, it’s led by our band captain. Usually, all the seniors start crying during it just because it means so much to us, and when you sing it, it just invokes a lot of emotion within the band.”
The members of SOP are all very close, and the members often refer to the band as a family. With there being over 100 members, conflicts occur, but according to SOP members, they typically don’t last that long.
“We’re very close and community-oriented. We volunteer for a lot of parades and stuff,” junior Hunter Held said. “Because we spend so much time together, and know how hard it is to balance school and band, we understand each other, and that helps a lot.”
Currently, SOP is preparing for competitions for this upcoming year, and is maintaining the chemistry they’ve formed over the years. They recently won first in their class at Flanagan High School’s annual Falcon Sound Invitational. The band hopes to uphold the same competitiveness they harbored at that time, and continue to hold the status as a critically-acclaimed high school orchestra.
Photo by Alexa Jaspan