San Bernardino High School alumni staff feature: Eddie Avilez

Featuring the Assistant Band Director of the SBHS Marching Cardinals: Eddie Avilez

Eddie Avilez and Alex (Assistant Drum Major) leading the Cardinal Marching Band. (Photo: Hazael Perez Calleros)

Eddie Avilez is the assistant band director of the San Bernardino High School Marching Cardinals and has been helping the band ever since he graduated in 2018. He, along with his assistant Cristian Marquez, who graduated in 2020, were very helpful and kind to take some time out of their day to talk about their experiences from when they were students at SBHS, compared to how they are now as staff members of SBHS.

How would you describe your high school experience?

Avilez: It was a really good experience, I really enjoyed it. Lots and lots of memories at that school. Being there all four years from my freshman to senior year. You’re really able to, you know, expand in that school with clubs and with friends and everything. It was a really good experience, I really enjoyed high school. It’s very sad once you graduate and you realize you’re never going to walk those halls again the way you used to.

Marquez: It was mixed feelings. At first, it was because I didn’t fit in anywhere and once I knew where I would stand, it was really fun and I look back now and I just think to myself, “Damn, I really want to go back to school.” Now it’s just like college-type school work.

What is like now being a teacher at SBHS compared to being a student?

Avilez: Well first of all it’s a lot more freedom. You know, instead of having to ask teachers to get out of class and go over to the band room to help, I can be free and just go there as much as I can. On the other hand, it gives me a lot more time to really put more work and effort into things instead of having to focus on homework and school and clubs or any other sport that I was in. It’s very good to be able to help everybody out as much as I can on my own time, watch the new kids come in, and experience helping them out and watching them grow and watching each generation after generation just keep coming and coming.

Marquez: It is very very different because you’re not a student anymore. You really are having a real job that you’re passionate about and it’s very great to see these students from when they were freshman growing up to being seniors and it’s amazing how much they’ve progressed and I love seeing the amount of progress.

Are there any extracurriculars that you were involved in while in high school? How did you balance your time?

Avilez: I was in an academy. I was the founder of the Law and Society Academy. I was the first president to be elected and on top of that, I was in tennis, wrestling, cross country, band, and cheer. Juggling all those clubs was a very big stress ball but I really loved doing everything so I made sure that I managed my time. Every time between breaks I’d make sure to do my work and make sure every sport got the same attention as they should get, but I mainly focused on band. I put one hundred percent into band and everything else came second, third or fourth. Honestly, it takes a lot of motivation and encouragement for yourself to really take on all those things. On top of that, your academics and making sure that everything is, you know, stable.

Marquez: I did wrestling for two years. The wrestling schedule was very flexible. I did prioritize band because obviously that was something that I loved to do more and wrestling was just an after school thing. If I was bored, I would just go there. It wasn’t that stressful balancing those kind of curriculars.

How did you find out that being a band director is what you wanted to do?

Avilez: It honestly started…I want to say in middle school, once I started learning more about music and I started seeing more of the marching band. That’s when I fell in love with it honestly, just like the music. It’s very different from concert and, don’t get me wrong, I do like concerts but it’s not really my “forte” when it comes to playing slow or sitting down. I love moving. I love dancing. I like throwing my instrument around and going crazy while being able to play and keep that energy while playing for two minutes straight. Now that I’m on the side that’s not playing, it’s more of teaching the kids how to do everything. It’s an even better experience and I never would have thought that I would be able to do that because I like performing, but also coaching is just as good as performing.

Marquez: Well since I found out that I like music and that you can actually do this certain job well I just took the chance and luckily Mrs. Campfield accepted me to help her and now I’m here.

What were some goals you set for yourself and for the band and were able to accomplish?

Avilez: I became Drum Major my senior year. For the past couple of years before I became drum major, there wasn’t really that much attention going to band, especially since we really didn’t have a band teacher for a long time and we weren’t able to do all the performances and do the rallies and do everything that we were able to. So my goal as drum major was to put us on the map and make sure that we were noticed, make sure that we played the songs that everyone would like and we could officially call ourselves a marching band again because it felt like we were closed out for a really long time due to us not having a director to help us stay in practice. So when I became drum major, my ultimate goal was to make sure that we were noticed, and I do believe that I succeeded with that since we were able to do multiple performances, especially going to Knott’s Berry Farm, the LA County Fair, and stuff like that. I’m not sure what other ones I can remember but there were a lot. I feel like I succeeded in what I intended.

What was it like last year with COVID shutting down everything?

Avilez: It was a very sad moment, I felt really sad…for the kids mainly. Due to them not being able to experience the high school experience that I was able to experience with band. I know all the band kids from last year, from the year before and this year. They were really into it and it was really unfortunate that they weren’t able to do their senior year as drum major and have the fun that you’re supposed to have. Also, not being able to teach the kids anything, doing everything by video call, it was all very…. You know, I missed seeing everyone in person. I missed teaching in person. It was a very bad experience, but I’m glad that we’re past that now.

Marquez: Oh, it was horrible. It was very difficult because you can’t do anything with Zoom. You literally have to be there physically to show the new students how to be able to progress since they can’t just progress through Zoom. It’s totally different compared to English classes, history or math. It’s just very difficult.

What would you say is your most memorable moment in high school?

Avilez: My most memorable moment in high school, it would always go directly to band. Anything in band from the bus rides back home – as you know they get pretty crazy – but, those are the most fun times that I think about. the football games, being able to conduct as the drum major. That was one of my favorite memories that we would never be able to get back. So those are my most memorable moments.

Marquez: There’s a few but the most memorable moments were the get-togethers like the potlucks, and everyone finally having a rest day after a performance, after a good completion of what we’ve done throughout the year for each year. We would get together and we would do potlucks and each of us would bring food and have sort of a Thanksgiving feast. Just more of a celebration that we’ve completed something, we did something that we wanted to do and now it was time to lay back, relax, and eat as much as we want and prepare for the upcoming events.

What was it like having Mr. Avilez as a student compared to working with him now as a teacher/assistant?

Marquez: Honestly, he grew too. He wasn’t a bad drum major, he was a very very good one. Throughout all the drum majors that were there prior to him, I saw that he taught himself and learned from the prior drum majors’ mistakes and he used that as an advantage to better himself. He utilized what he learned from the past majors and that is what made him better. And that’s pretty much the reason why I stayed in band because he’s an enthusiastic person so I was like, “Okay, I’m getting comfortable with this.” At first it was like “I just want to play my instrument for a little bit and I’ll see what I want to do later on.” He’s the main reason why I stuck with marching band for all four years of high school and he’s a big inspiration to all these new students because they all look up to him and maybe they want to become drum majors too. So we’ll have to find out this year…and the next.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

Avilez: One thing that I admire is watching the kids that I first met when I was in high school and watching the last couple of kids leave. It’s very heartwarming to see how much they’ve grown from a freshman all the way to a senior and I was able to be there the whole time and watch their personalities grow, their looks change and everything about them. It’s good to see that because it’s not all the time where you get to see all the kids grow and succeed and have a good head on their shoulders and stuff. And it’s good to see them take the legacy of band into a different direction. Something that is, you know, out of the ordinary, but in a good way. It’s good to see all the kids grow into young adults and move on to the next step in life.

Marquez: Make it last. Make your high school years last because you’re gonna look back and be like, “Oh I wish I could’ve done this” because your mindset grows after high school because now you’re just facing reality. I mean, I wish I would’ve done a lot more things in high school than what I did, but it’s too late now. That’s why, since I work there now I can use that kind of mindset that I wanted to use before, so now I just do my best to help the new students. Have fun, don’t be shy. You’re gonna have to break through that eventually and the sooner the better honestly. Be out there, do something for your future. Just do it.

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