The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

LAHS marching band students receive Marine Corps award

Ashley+Tumacder+%28left%29+and+senior+Rom+Zuckerman+%28right%29+receive+the+Semper+Fidelis+Award+from+a+Marine+Corps+Officer.+
Courtesy Aimee Ge
Ashley Tumacder (left) and senior Rom Zuckerman (right) receive the Semper Fidelis Award from a Marine Corps Officer.

On Sunday, November 19, the Los Altos High School Marching Band competed in the annual Western Band Association (WBA) Grand Championships in Sacramento, California. During the event, senior Rom Zuckerman and junior Ashley Tumacder won the Semper Fidelis Award from the Marine Corps for their diligence and musical excellence in their respective grades.

“I was very shocked but excited,” Rom said. “It was a nice way to wrap up the marching band experience.”

The Semper Fidelis Award is presented to students with exceptional leadership traits, such as knowledge, dependability and enthusiasm. With Rom guiding the drumline and Ashley leading the flutes and clarinets, both have taken up significant roles in the marching band as section leaders.

Rom and Ashley both take the extra time to make sure that the band is the best that it can be, whether it’s getting feedback from the judges and articulating that to their section, or just keeping the band focused. They do a really great job of guiding the band to improvement.

— Hayden Tang

Having a section title doesn’t just mean being a leader — it’s also about representing other individuals during discussions and practice. For example, during band meetings, section leaders are expected to report how their section is doing and what they still need to work on. They teach their section the choreography and marching techniques, leading their section through shows and practices.

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“I’ve learned that if I can’t be my best self during rehearsal, then I need to step back and be patient with my members,” Ashley said. “Being encouraging and telling people I’m seeing their growth is the most effective and important to me.”

Other band members, like junior Hayden Tang, also point out Rom and Ashley’s dedication to their section as the reason for their awards.

“Rom and Ashley are like older siblings to the band,” Hayden said. “Rom is really good at encouraging people. If you’re feeling down or nervous about something, he’s always like, ‘You got this. You’ll do great.’ Ashley does more behind-the-scenes stuff — if you have a question about something, you ask her. She’ll know the answer.”

To junior Anya Shultz, it was their friendliness and encouragement towards the rest of the band that earned them the award. 

“Rom’s kind of quintessential to the band,” Anya said. “He’s great at making connections to people outside of his musical talent. It wouldn’t be the same without what he does.” 

Working their way up in marching band didn’t come easy for Ashley or Rom — it took hard work, commitment and stepping out of their comfort zone. Rom reminisced on his experience joining the band freshman year, touching on his initial difficulty adjusting to the new group.

“In my first week of band, I had a rough experience,” Rom said. “It was hard at first, but I kept trying and loved it ever since.” 

“Marching band is very much a community I belong in. I feel like it’s the kind of a place where I can be my free self, so I really appreciate the environment.

— Ashley Tumacder

For Ashley, it was her new friends and peers that motivated her most to push herself to the best of her abilities.

“Marching band is very much a community I belong in,” Ashley said. “I feel like it’s the kind of a place where I can be my free self, so I really appreciate the environment.”

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Janavi Ramde, Staff Writer

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