Leaving The Nest


Natalie Apolo

2019 Sunlake graduates, Ellis Byrd, Elijah Santos, and Sarah Tyson

Natalie Apolo, Photographer

Ellis Byrd, Elijah Santos, and Sarah Tyson are representing the graduating band members of Class 2019. They were selected by Mr. Champion to speak on their band experience. They each have a strong connection and passion for music. Over the course of four years they have enjoyed band and now see it as a home and family. Each of these band members play in different sections, giving insight to different aspects of Sunlake’s Soaring Sound.

Ellis Byrd [left] is the percussion captain and plays the snare drum. He began playing music because there has been a “music influence in [his] family since as long as [he] could remember.” From a young age, he could recall his family singing but he was more interested in other forms of music. Ellis says joining band has allowed him to both “embrace musicality” and “teach others.” He now has been a member of the Sunlake Soaring Sound for four years.

Elijah Santos [center] is the trumpet captain. He was introduced to music by his “stepfather who loved Spanish music, particularly the trumpet, although he didn’t play himself.” Since then it has been, as Elijah describes it, “second nature to play an instrument.” From fourth grade, “[he] taught [himself] to play trumpet before he got his first tutor in his freshman year.” Elijah has also been a member of the band for four years.

Sarah Tyson [right] is the color guard captain. Sarah joined color guard in middle school; her mother had been involved in guard growing up and introduced Sarah to it. Sarah states, “Guard taught me self accountability, discipline, and time management” and it “gives me the opportunity to perform.” As captain, Sarah says guard “has prepared [her] for adult life.” Sarah has been a member of the color guard for four years.

As these students prepare to leave, they reminisce the times they’ve spent with band, as they often traveled for competitions. “Traveling with the band creates a family environment,” says Sarah Tyson, and it has given these students the “opportunity to learn from other performers” (Elijah Santos). Each student spoke of the family within band and how it has positively impacted their high school years. Sarah Tyson says, “Band has taught me I’m never alone,” and spoke of how close each member is with one another.

Not only have these students gained a “family,” they have also learned many life lessons from being in band. Ellis Byrd discussed his uncertainty for the future prior to band, “I had no idea what I wanted to pursue.” However, through band, Ellis and the other students have found what they love and a sense of direction. Elijah Santos calls band “a career within itself” and says it has “expanded [his] view on life.” “It’s taught me you have to work for achievements,” says Ellis Byrd. Sunlake’s Soaring Sound has won many awards and will be heading to the WGI World Champions Competition next year.

To those who are considering joining an arts program at Sunlake, such as band or color guard, these students highly encourage it. Sarah Tyson states, “Joining an arts program is an experience everyone should have.” Each one of them assures fellow students that it is worth the time commitment. So, with watery eyes, the band seniors will be leaving the nest and their parting wish is that the band continues to succeed and that as many students as possible are able to experience it.