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State Champion Marching Band Plays On


The music is rising to a crescendo at Godwin Heights High School, where Band Director Jake Castillo is building offthe excitement of the Marching Band’s first-place state championship by launching new opportunities for his musicians.

Masked conductor Eyvin Miranda leads from the bleachers
Masked conductor Eyvin Miranda leads from the bleachers

Castillo is extending opportunities past the marching band season by starting an after-school jazz band, which Godwin hasn’t had in several years, along with wind and percussion ensembles. He also recently led an All-Wyoming Honors Band concert with students from Godwin Heights, Godfrey-Lee, Wyoming and Kelloggsville high schools.

“I’m passionate about it and I want the students to have the opportunity to play jazz outside of school,” said Castillo, who manages one of the most rigorous marching band schedules in the area, including a two-week band camp onsite at the school.

Godwin Heights’ 80-member Marching Band earned a score of 91.35 to take first place in Flight IV at the State Finals at Detroit’s Ford Field on Nov. 4. The show, Sideshow, incorporates elements for a circus, with students performing stunts, while playing Big Top-themed songs. Other first place finishes this year took place in competitions at Grant, Belding, Jenison and Reeths-Puffer schools.

Mauricio Bresso plays way low on the tuba

The state championship is Godwin’s first under Castillo, who is in his third year as director. The band has won seven state titles since 2004.

In Godwin Heights, nearly 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. The district pays for all students’ instruments, and allocated $80,000 to the band program from the bond issue voters approved in May.

Senior Eyvin Miranda, conductor, said it’s the culture of the program that creates success. “It’s the family aspect. It brings us together and inspires us to keep going.”

Senior marimba player Adriel Vera-Soto echoed that sentiment. “One thing that makes us really successful is we are committed and united as a family. Blood, sweat and tears has made this season so worth it.”

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SNN story on Godwin Heights Band program

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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