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Colusa High trumpeter marching to Miami for Orange Bowl
By Todd R. Hansen
Colusa County Sun-Herald
Alexia Vargas and her trumpet are marching to Miami.
The Colusa High senior, who performed at Carnegie Hall in New York as a junior in February, has been selected to be part of an all-star marching band that will play at halftime during the BCS Championship game at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 7.
"That was so much fun. It was absolutely amazing," Vargas said of her Carnegie experience.
"Nothing compares to how I felt when I played there," she added. "To be in a room full of people who love the same thing I do was amazing."
The one thing the Orange Bowl has on Carnegie Hall is space, with a seating capacity of 72,319 compared to the famed New York hall with its 2,804 seats.
World Strides organized and held audutions for both the Carnegie and Bowl Championship Series events.
Vargas said she never expected to be at either place, and credits music teacher Mike Phenicie for making it happen.
"I watched YouTube videos, Mr. Phenecie told me everything he knew, and some of his friends who know about marching (bands) told me things. I even read about it in books," said Vargas, who added she has actually only marched in a band one time — that was two years ago as part of the school's annual Homecoming parade. The band will be in Friday's parade, too, but will be riding in comfort on a float — sofas and all — not marching.
To qualify for the BCS group, Vargas trained during the summer, marching while playing in the school gym. When she was ready, she was videotaped in July. She learned she had been selected on Oct. 1.
Vargas said she received an email from her parents about the selection, though that was by mistake, and Phenicie made an announcement in her second-period class as well.
In addition to being a member of the school band, Vargas also is part of the Colusa High jazz band, and competes in outside events as well.
She also competes for the cross country team, will play soccer in the winter and is thinking about joining the track and field team in the spring.
And she is an unabashed, unashamed, undaunted RedHawk who attends all the dances and gets involved in as many activities as time allows.
On Tuesday, she dressed up as Kim Kardashian as part of homecoming activities.
Her first instrument may be the trumpet, but Vargas also plays the guitar, bass guitar, tenor sax, trombone, banjo and "a little bit on the piano."
And Vargas is dedicated to the task.
She gets up every day at 5:30 a.m. so she can be at rehearsal at 7 a.m. for one band or another at the school.
At her side is her best friend, Lupita Ramos, who also performed at Carnegie Hall.
It was Ramos who got Vargas involved in band in the first place, when the two were in sixth grade.
"She has been my best friend since kindergarten," Vargas said. "And it's really cool. It's like we grew up in music together."
In a very real sense, Vargas said, she relates to her instrument better than she does most people.
"When you play your instrument, you get more than talking to people; you feel more," she said. "Sometimes I play my instrument just to let off my fumes."
Vargas leaves for Miami on Jan. 3.
While there she expects to practice twice a day for a total of six to seven hours each day. She really doesn't know what to expect.
What she hopes, however, is that the Oregon University Ducks are on the field.
"I go for the Oregon Ducks, and they are (ranked) No. 3 right now," Vargas said.
The affection for the green and gold comes from her aunt, Donna, who has been sending her "little Duck things" since she was a little girl.
Right now Vargas is focused on having a great senior year, and is aprehensive about the day she leaves Colusa High.
"I don't want to ever grow up," said Vargas, who admits she still orders the occassional Happy Meal and plays on the playground equipment at McDonald's.
Still, Vargas has her eye on five universities where she plans to continue her musical education: Fresno, Chico, San Francisco State, Fullerton or Sonoma.
All, she said, have strong music programs.
She is leaning toward Fresno State because, of all things, it is the only one with a marching band.
"I like to march," she said.