Cardiff School District students participate in parade


More than 100 Cardiff School District students proudly marched down Pacific Coast Highway Dec. 2 in the City of Encinitas Holiday Parade.

The students were from the Cardiff School third grade music program and the Ada Harris Wildcat Band. Cardiff School District students have performed in the City of Encinitas Holiday Parade for the past six years.

After months of practicing the recorder and earning qualifying ribbons, the third graders performed the holiday classic, “Jingle Bells” by James Lord Pierpont. While all students in the district attend music once a week, traditionally the third graders are introduced to basic music notes through the recorder and learn simple songs. Recorders lay the groundwork for breath control needed for wind instruments and fingering for woodwinds. The big goal is to perform for their parents and community in the parade.

While proud of the day their children reach the parade, parents are also grateful as the sounds of home recorder practice conclude with the parade.

For fourth through sixth grade students who are interested in developing their instrumental musical talents beyond the recorder, Ada Harris has the Wildcat Instrumental Band, in addition to weekly music class. The band was formed over 30 years ago and is one of very few elementary schools in San Diego County with a formal band program. Almost 100 enthusiastic Wildcat Band members marched in the parade Dec. 2.

They also performed “Jingle Bells,” yet stepped it up by also playing “El Capitan” by John Philip Sousa. The Wildcat Instrumental Band includes woodwinds, brass and percussion.

Wildcats show dedication to their passion by practicing and performing throughout the school year. Band practice is held at least two times per week, typically before or after school.

Many have said, “Wildcats are some of the most prepared band members to enter the middle school band programs. They often quickly rise to sectional chair positions due to their elementary musical experience.”

The Wildcat Band is led by, director, Deb O’Neill.

O’Neill was hired in October 2017, when the previous director resigned when she was selected for a full-time position as the director of both the Oak Crest Middle School and Diegueno Middle School band programs. O’Neill began playing music when she was three years old and went on to be in The President’s Own, United States Marine Band and played at the White House.

She has extensive experience directing elementary school bands and founded the Roger Rowe band in Rancho Santa Fe.

“I am happy and honored to be directing the Ada Harris Band,” said Deb O’Neill. “I love the students’ enthusiasm for music and I really appreciate the support from the district, staff and families. This parade was a perfect example of the whole community coming together.”

The Ada Harris Wildcats holiday concert is December 14 at Ada Harris Elementary and begins at 6:30 p.m. Students play a variety of holiday songs. Members of the school community are invited to the concert and it is always a full house and a great time.

— Submitted news release