The North Park Middle School band is marching to a higher purpose than before. Instead of entering marching band competitions as they did in the past, North Park has adopted a new style that they refere to as "Embracing Culture and Leaving Others Better Off".
The band began this school year by participating in the Los Angeles Korean Parade. But instead of competing like the other bands North Park chose to embrace the Korean Culture. To get started all of the students researched Korea and then built group projects that they later shared with the class. They also ate at a traditional Korean Bar-b-que restaurant. For many of the students it was the first time they had ever eaten with chopsticks. In the parade the band was surrounded by Korean flags while they marched to the music of the Korean National Anthem through Los Angeles' Korea Town.
In October the band began working towards their Veteran's Day Parade. In groups of 4 the students sought out and visited a Veteran in their community. They wrote reports and created poster board projects about their visitations. The students were amazed to discover that there are many heros living in their immediate community. The group presentation day included guest speakers, on of whom was a former drum major of the United States Army Band. The day ended joyfully with an All American Hot Dog, Lemonade, and Apple Pie Party.
Then came the week of the parade. That Wednesday the band split into two concert bands and visited the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital where they performed two concerts simultaneously at two nursing homes. The concerts ended with meaningful visitations between the students and the patients. And on Saturday, surrounded by 45 United States Flags the band marched to the music "God Bless America". At one point on the parade route the band stopped for a lonely looking Viet Nam Veteran, they turned and faced him and told him that this performance was "just for him". As they performed God Bless America all of the band students could see tears pouring out from behind his sunglasses.
The Fall parade season ended with the band's annual parade in Disneyland. Included in the parade was a very special guest that the band met in 2010. The young girl, whose name is being protected, is from Haiti. Caught in the famous Haitian earthquake of 2010 she was crushed by a collapsed building and thought ot be dead. But when she was discovered still alive she was rushed to the nearest hospital available - that happened to be all the way in Philadelphia. For their 2010 Carnegie Hall Concert the North Park Band had developed music outreach programs on the East Coast, those being in Harlem, Brooklyn, Baltimore and Philadelphia, at that same Children's Hospital where the girl was taken, and it happened that the girl was taught the music quickly and then joined the North Park band in their Carnegie Hall concert.
When she was first invited to travel to Pico Rivera the band thought that she would be pushed in a wheelchair, but the girl bravely insisted that she could march the whole parade route with her artificial leg. So this brave young lady was flown to California at the expense of the North Park Band and proudly marched in the Disneyland Main Street Parade, carrying a Haitian flag, while the band paraded flags form 45 other countries and performed the Music "It's a Small World".
Also included in the parade were kids from North Park's extensive community outreach project in which the students give music lessons to children in homeless shelters, a children's hospital and facilities for abused children. Included were 2 homeless children who had survived a kidnapping.
North Park was once acclaimed as a leader in band competitions. They went on a 17 year streak of perfectly undefeated parade competitions. They are the only middle school band to ever march in te Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and they have performed in New york City's Carnegie Hall four times. In 2009 members of the band travelled to China where they performed and taught music lessons in orphanages. Now, instead of competitions the band embraces culture through their parade activities, and they leave others better off through their extensive community outreach projects that include peer teaching and concerts at shelters, hospitals, and senior centers.
There are three key goals of the North Park Band:
1. To enhance the moral foundation of every student.
2. To awaken a sense of life purpose.
3. To call every heart to a higher level of unselfish love.