Harmonious Transition: Meet the 2024-2025 Section Leaders

Harmonious Transition: Meet the 2024-2025 Section Leaders

Gabriel Stanescu: From Stressed to Success
Gabriel Stanescu: From Stressed to Success

Gabriel Stanescu is a free spirit; coming from a family who left Venezuela for a better life, he sees the potential within himself to make an impact, being a mountain biker, and apprentice mechanic at a local dealership.

They definitely opened a window of opportunities instead of being stuck in a third-world country.

— Gabriel Stanescu

“My biggest motivation in life is definitely the opportunity that my parents gave to me by moving here,” Stanescu said. ”They definitely opened a window of opportunities instead of being stuck in a third-world country. So I’m trying to make the best of what they gave us.”

Stanescu, a junior, is slated to be the low-reeds section leader for the 2024-2025 school year. Having been in band since his 6th-grade year, his journey as a musician hasn’t always been smooth, as the time commitment and responsibility needed as a marcher poses its fair share of challenges. In the end, though, the community and progress made along the way overshadow these “negatives.”

“Well…it’s been a roller coaster of emotions-there are times for us to want to quit and just give up on it,” Stanescu said. “But, the outcome is pretty rewarding sometimes, like when you do well at competitions, and when you get to see people grow, you know it will end up pretty well.”

With the seemingly constant ups-and-downs as a marcher, a trusted teacher figure seemed mandatory, and in this case, it took the form of the directors: Mr. Jeff Johnson, Mrs. Leslie Flynn, and Mr. Kyle Emiliani. 

“Probably the biggest factor for me staying would be the directors in general because they always made us be on top of our work and they would check up on us with our grades and stuff,” Stanescu said. “And they would just make sure we were on top of everything so we could actually be eligible and stuff. Additionally, they were the ones who convinced us to stay and introduced us to the whole concept of being a section leader.”

Nicolas Azarcoya: Faith in regards to Leadership
Nicolas Azarcoya: Faith in regards to Leadership

Nicolas Azarcoya is a man on a mission; coming from a family who moved to Sugar Land, from California, Nick uses his Christian faith to guide him through both his private and academic life. Being a player for his local hockey team, along with taking an interest in boxing, Nick seeks to become a well-rounded pillar of his community, seeing his connection to the Christian faith and familial values as an obligation to set a good example for those around him.

“I think that the biggest motivation that I have right now, is my religion,” Azarcoya said. “I’d say that recently, I’ve started to have the mentality to think; what would The One Above expect from me to fulfill His will, for my life. Secondly, my family also gives me motivation, especially my mom, she has always been there for me in my life, so taking her into account really allows me to thrive.”

Azarcoya, a junior, will be a flute section leader for the 2024-2025 school year. Having been in band since for all of middle school, Nick sees the value that music has in the place of peoples’ lives, along with how good leadership can transform someone’s life. With this in mind, he sees the potential in himself to be a pillar for the band, and perhaps make the experience for others “just that much better.”

Every single time we have rehearsal, which are long hours, we have to take an approach of hard work, as we can’t get distracted when we practice, or else nothing will get finished.

— Nicolas Azarcoya

“Ever since freshman year, I have become so fascinated with marching band, and watching my section leaders back then, gave me the influence and inspiration to become a leader in the future,” Azarcoya said. “Also I want to make the band better than last year and thrive for making state and other such competitions.”

This attitude for becoming a significant member of the band community doesn’t just come from a sense of enjoyment and contentment, but from the discipline and steadfastness created throughout the season. Throughout marching season much of their time is spent practicing long hours in the hot sun, and only through these tough practices do marchers build their work ethic and capabilities.

“To me, the value of marching band is that it produces a mentality of discipline,” Azarcoya said. “Every single time we have rehearsal, which are long hours, we have to take an approach of hard work, as we can’t get distracted when we practice, or else nothing will get finished. Having this kind of mentality is really good, and it has helped contribute to my hockey and academic accomplishments.”

Robert Johnson: A View from the Top-Down.
Robert Johnson: A View from the Top-Down.

Robert Johnson has been at the helm of the CHS band program for many years now and in that time, the band has accrued many achievements, such as their consistent state marching appearances and consistent UIL and awards. However, it stands to reason, that these accolades were not something built overnight, but the result of hard work and passion throughout his Clements experience, studying in college, and time as assistant section leader of the band.

So I learned a lot about what works but also what doesn’t work when I was a section leader and percussionist in the band here,” Johnson said. “I practiced a lot, and I was good at my instrument. But… I had people in my section who I knew didn’t take it as seriously as I did, and at that age, I was frustrated by that, and my response was to get mad at those people. And I look back on that now a lot wiser and realize that that motivation doesn’t work for a lot of high school kids. I think the difference between then and now is that now we talk a lot about glow and grow.”

Even with his position at the top of the band hierarchy, Johnson’s inspiration took the form of his former band director, Larry Matysiak. Despite butting heads on occasion with him, Johnson saw through the emotions being exchanged, and instead utilized it as constructive criticism to benefit his capability as a member of the band.

“He and I didn’t always get along all that well, and I got in trouble a couple of times with him, I even remember him having to deal with my mom,” Johnson said. “But what I took away wasn’t that he was like this big mean guy, instead I took away that he had our best interest and that he knew how to make us successful.“

The kids who are leaders next year, they look back on what was given to them, and they want to build on that and they want to tweak it and make it their own.

— Robert Johnson

As time passes, and marchers come and go, fixation goes from year-to-year performance towards preserving the integrity of the band’s legacy. In this endeavor, Johnson has put all his effort towards making band leadership better each year, allowing for a constant flow of section leaders who inspire their fellow marchers to “rise to the occasion.”

I think that’s why the climate is good year after year, is that we have built it up to a certain point where it becomes perpetual,” Johnson said. “The kids who are leaders next year, they look back on what was given to them, and they want to build on that and they want to tweak it and make it their own. And we build that into our new section leaders so that every year, we like to think that we’re getting slightly better. “

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