Mission, Texas- As the marching band season began this month, the Mission High School (MHS) Eagle Band and the Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) Patriot Band each found themselves under new leadership. Both new head band directors wasted no time jumping into work, preparing their students for football game halftime shows, and for the Pigskin UIL competitions.
Sam Hjort is the new director of bands at MHS. Originally from Georgia, he graduated from the University of Georgia before starting his career at Brownsville Lopez High School. While there, he found success advancing students to the state marching band competition three consecutive times. Under his direction, concert bands also received numerous sweepstakes awards and UIL contests. As the director of the Lopez Winterguard, his units received the gold medal twice at the Texas Educational Colorguard Association state competition. Students also earned numerous chairs in region, area, and the Texas Music Education Association All-State Band in the highest classification.
“I look forward to the opportunity to lead the Mission High School Eagle Band and can already see the hard work and dedication the students of Mission CISD possess,” Hjort said.
Guillermo De La Cruz III expressed similar thoughts as he started as the director of bands at VMHS. “I see great potential in the band program, and I am thrilled with the strong support for the arts in this district,” De La Cruz said.
De La Cruz is starting his tenth year as a music educator. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2011. Prior to teaching for Mission Consolidated Independent School District (CISD), De La Cruz taught for five years as the associate band director at Rio Grande City High School and four years with Roma Independent School District (ISD). He has taught band classes at middle school and high school levels where his students have earned All Region band placements, and have gone on to become high school All-State musicians. Ensembles under the direction of De La Cruz have received consistent UIL sweepstakes awards and best-in-class awards a various concert band competitions and music festivals.
Carlos Garcia, fine arts director for Mission CISD is pleased with the energy both new directors have injected into their respective programs. “Our students, parents and entire district are extremely excited to see our band programs continue to represent our community in a positive way this coming school year,” Garcia said.
Both bands began rehearsing and marching practices earlier this month, all in preparation for the first football games to be held later this week.
Pictured from left to right are: Sam Hjort, director of bands at Mission High School; Guillermo De La Cruz, director of bands at Veterans Memorial High School.
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