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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 10, 2001

Kawananakoa band wins competition in Las Vegas

By Zenaida Serrano Espanol
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Kawananakoa Middle School band took first place and other awards at the Heritage Festival held last month.
Band students at Kawananakoa Middle School in the Punchbowl neighborhood feel like gold, and rightfully so. They received the first-place Gold Award in their division at the Heritage Festival competition May 5 in Las Vegas.

"The students were ecstatic," said Leonard Hasuko, Kawananakoa band director. "They were jumping up and down and screaming."

The Heritage Festivals are held in various cities nationwide from March to the end of May and offer competitive opportunities for school bands, orchestras and choirs.

The Kawananakoa Middle School band entered with 54 students and performed alongside 15 others from schools in Arizona and California. Kawananakoa was the only school from Hawai'i and the only middle school in the competition.

"The students were nervous," Hasuko said, "but because of their preparation, the nervousness was overcome, and they did a really good job."

Kawananakoa also received the Adjudicators' Award, which Hasuko said really meant a lot to him because the award is given to groups scoring 92 percent or higher on a national high school standard. He said that at some festivals, the award is not presented because none of the contestants meet the standards required.

In addition, the band received a Certificate of Excellence, which is awarded to the outstanding musical group in the festival. The Kawananakoa Middle School band, along with winners of each of the other regional Heritage Festivals, has been invited to the Instrumental Festival of Gold competition next year in Chicago, where participation is by invitation only.