Finishing seventh place in the nation’s biggest marching band competition, the Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band was selected from 100 competing bands to perform in the 2018 Rose Bowl Parade.

The honor signals another major achievement in a program that has become an integral part of the high school since its inception in 1999.

“This is a time where there has been a lot of turmoil in our country, and a lot of expression of people with very opposite opinions,” Director Dan Morrison told the band before their Bands of America Grand National Preliminary performance at Lucas Oil Stadium. “This show is 12 minutes for people to watch something and just feel good. To feel connected with you, to feel connected with each other, and for you to feel connected to the audience.”

Underscoring this theme of connectivity, the band performed songs like Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” in addition to a more traditional classical repertoire.

Morrison, who has been involved with the Reagan Marching Band for seven years, attributes its success to the enormous commitment students, staff, and families dedicate to the enterprise. From putting in 40-hour weeks of practice during summer band camp, to practicing for more than three hours every school day, the band directors have made hard work the norm.

“It’s become a culture of excellence that’s just the expectation now,” Morrison told the Rivard Report.

Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band competes in the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, IN.
The Ronald Reagan High School Marching Band competes in the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis.

Morrison also gives credit to NEISD’s strong elementary and middle school feeder programs, as well as a number of talented show designers constantly seeking creative ways to improve the program.

Because of the high costs of transporting nearly 10% of the school’s population to Indianapolis, this marks the first time in four years that the Reagan Band has participated in the national competition. During that time, Morrison said the band has won two Houston area competitions. It also placed second in the Bands of America competition in 2005.

“We weren’t expecting to go on two big trips two years in a row, but an invitation to the Rose Parade is not something you turn down,” Morrison said. “So we’ll probably turn up our fundraising efforts from what we had on this trip.”

The marching band at Reagan’s NEISD sister school, Claudia Taylor Johnson High School, also competed in the Bands of America Grand Nationals Championship, placing ninth overall.

Daniel Kleifgen

Daniel Kleifgen

Daniel Kleifgen graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy. A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., he came to San Antonio in 2013 as a Teach For America corps member.