SPRINGFIELD – Ray Dandurand, chair of Central High School’s
Band Department, readily admitted the news the Golden Eagles Marching Band having been selected to march in the 2015 Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. is “pretty exciting.”
This is the first time the band has received such an honor.
When Dandurand started the band nine years ago it consisted of 17 students and had no funding. Today, there are about 100 students in the band.
“It’s been a growing program,” Dandurand said and explained there have been steps the organization has taken to reach their present level, such as competing against other high school bands and performing in parades.
He said the process to receive the invitation to perform in Washington D.C. started with a request to the nation’s governors. Gov. Deval Patrick passed the request to Mayor Domenic Sarno who in turn forwarded it to School Superintendent Daniel Warwick. Dandurand said Warwick then asked the administration of the high school, “Can Central do this for us?”
Dandurand then had to send performance video and information about the school and the band to the parade organizers. Two weeks ago he received the good news.
Besides marching in the parade, the Golden Eagles will also be playing for President Barack Obama during a wreath laying ceremony.
“We’re representing our city and state,” Dandurand said. “This is a rare opportunity to be able to do this.”
There is no budget for the trip and Dandurand said that everyone going – students, teachers, and administrators – must raise $460 each to cover the costs of transportation and a three-day hotel stay.
He is asking students to find sponsors and the deadline is Oct. 1 to raise the funds.
“This is the biggest performance everyone is going to play in their lives,” he said.
Dandurand said that if individuals or businesses would like to assist in the fundraising effort, a check could be made payable to Central High School Band mailed to 1840 Roosevelt Ave., Springfield, MA, 01109.