SAN DIMAS/LA VERNE – New Year’s 2023 will hold a special place in the memories of an elite group of Bonita Unified students, who were selected to don traditional red and white uniforms, march down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena and showcase their musical talents on a world stage as part of Pasadena City College’s (PCC) Tournament of Roses Honor Band.
Six students from Bonita and San Dimas high schools were among the 230 musicians to march with the prestigious group, which consists of high school students from throughout Southern California and members of the PCC Lancer Marching Band, down the 5.5-mile parade route on Jan. 2.
“The Tournament of Roses Honor Band is an experience of a lifetime that gives you the opportunity to meet friends that will last for years,” said Bonita High junior Aidan Millan, who was selected for the second consecutive year to play trombone for the Honor Band. “The memories and experiences that I am left with are unmatched. I will be returning again for 2024 and I can’t wait!”
Millan was joined by four other Bonita High students: senior Matt Siasoco on the trombone and juniors Charlotte Gann on the xylophone, Evan Wang on the clarinet and Lake Ericson playing the cymbals.
“The Tournament of Roses Honor Band provides a great opportunity for my advanced students to continue to develop and refine their skills alongside the best players and instructors in Southern California,” Bonita High band director Jeff Bird said. “The students come back with great stories and experiences that inspire the rest of the group to strive to achieve at the highest levels.”
For San Dimas High School sophomore Maisie Phan, her selection to the Tournament of Roses Honor Band exemplified her growth as a musician. Phan, who plays trombone, auditioned for the band as a freshman; although she was not selected, she said the experience made her determined to improve and try again.
With encouragement from San Dimas High School co-band director Lance Beckford, Phan devoted herself to practicing her music – all while juggling her schoolwork, school band practice, and her involvement in the Associated Student Body – and secured the opportunity to represent San Dimas High in the Honor Band.
“Maisie has grown so much as a musician in the last year, and it is thrilling to see her hard work pay off and watch her represent our school at such a high level,” Beckford said. “For us, band is about more than just music – it’s about putting yourself out there, trying new things and being part of something larger than yourself. Maisie has done just that, and it sets a great example for our band program about what is possible with a little practice, courage and determination.”
Auditions for the Honor Band are held in October. Once selected, the musicians undergo a rigorous rehearsal schedule through November and December, a significant time commitment for the students on top of their regular schoolwork and campus band activities.
“Performing in the Rose Parade was one of the happiest moments of my life,” Phan said. “I wasn’t nervous at all, just excited and having fun. I love performing and really enjoy the feeling of learning and mastering a new piece of music, and it was really special to be part of this experience.”
BUSD_SDHS_ROSEPARADE: San Dimas High School sophomore Maisie Phan, who has played trombone since sixth grade, showcased her musical skill and performed with the Tournament of Roses Honor Band on Jan. 2.
BUSD_BHS_ROSEPARADE: Five Bonita High School students were selected to perform with the prestigious Tournament of Roses Honor Band on Jan. 2. From left to right: junior Lake Ericson (cymbals), junior Charlotte Gann (xylophone), junior Evan Wang (clarinet), junior Aidan Millan (trombone) and senior Matt Siasoco (trombone).