Drumline nets bronze in Lynwood holiday parade

The VDHS Drumline and their frequent parade companions, the Eagle Belles Cheer squad of St. Mary’s Academy, pose prior to the recent Westchester Christmas Parade.  Photo by Victor Cancino

By Victor Cancino, Moderator, Verbum Dei High School Drumline

Verbum Dei’s Drumline placed 3rd in this year’s Lynwood Candy Cane Lane Parade December 2.  The boys entered in the competitive Drum Squad field and because of their placing 3rd, the line has been invited to apply to any of 40 upcoming competitive and non-competitive parades in Southern California. 

The 3rd Place trophy is on display in Room 202.  Viewing hours are from 9:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. Thursday or by appointment,”  said Cancino, whose pride in the drumline is palpable. “If you would like to view and maybe touch the trophy with your own hands after hours, you may ask Security Guard Roy to escort you in for a private viewing.”

VDHS Drumline to march in Westchester parade

Drumline members congregate around the Eagle mascot earlier this school year.  Photograph by Victor Cancino, Moderator, VDHS Drumline

With the support of the St. Mary’s Academy Eagle Belles, the Verbum Dei Drum Line will participate in their third parade this holiday season. The Westchester Christmas Parade will be held Sunday, December 11th at 2:00 P.M. The parade starts at the corner of Loyola Blvd. and Manchester Avenue in Westchester and heads east on Manchester to conclude on Emerson Avenue. Drumline members ask you to support your Verbum Dei Drumline while celebrating the holiday season this weekend. 

VDHS Drumline and Eagle Belles march as ensemble in annual Watt’s Christmas parade

By John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

In their second non-school related appearance of the 2011-2012 school year, the Verbum Dei High School Drumline, accompanied by the Eagle Belles cheer squad of sister school St. Mary Academy of Inglewood, marched in the Watts Christmas Parade December 3.

Carrying both the Verb and St. Mary’s banners, the Belles stepped the route to the steady back beat of the drum line; the pairing reminiscent of the two squads shared mission during the recent football season.  Hours of marching drills around the campus parking lot were apparent in the tight formation of the ensemble.

The parade was a lumbering one, with 15-20 minute gaps between units, but the Verb/SMA contingent was prominent among the anchors, marching near at the end of a column that spanned more than two hours.

The parade attracted thousands of spectators, yet the sidewalk was by no means shoulder to shoulder along the parade route, which stretched along Central Avenue between El Segundo Blvd. and Ted Watkins Memorial Park on a sunny, but cool Saturday afternoon.

Inaugural choir concert “Christmas at the Verb 2011” features harmonic and melodic sparkle


by John Stradley, Moderator, The Present Dei

Verbum Dei choirs “The Blue Notes,” “The Golden Keys,” and soloists set the Christmas season to a melodic and harmonic start Friday evening, December 2 before an audience of nearly 200.  “Christmas at the Verb 2011,” the first-ever Christmas concert at VDHS was a delight, featuring strong vocal performances, a tight rhythm section, comedy, and even a sing-along of holiday favorites.

In spite of the fact that this was an inaugural event, the harmonies and choreography throughout the evening gave the impression that the participants were veteran performers; the voices were strong and bold, stage presence was not affected, and a good natured, non-pretentious confidence pervaded the concert.  These qualities were most apparent in the performances of the soloists. Darrin Cottrell, Jesus Real, Reynaldo Cartagena, and Ellis Smith, whose solo during the finale was both powerful and moving, were at ease before the microphone, connecting with the audience with ease, grace, and, occasionally, with humor.

Director EJ Vierya, who accompanied many soloists on electric piano, assembled an eclectic blend of songs for the concert which included a number of traditional carols and popular pieces, seasoned with an original composition and “Betelehemu,” a Nigerian Christmas song.

Showcasing the senior’s vocal and instrumental talent, Cartagena’s “No More Love Songs” provided a holiday-tinged respite from the seasonal music and featured a rap bridge.  Junior Christian Rubi, the percussionist of the accompanying trio, provided jazzy and rocking backbeats on several numbers and a Latin beat with the cajon on others.  Senior Ashton Patt’s soulful “This Christmas” featured Cartagena on a restrained yet engaging electric-acoustic guitar solo.  Academic Dean George Favell accompanied the combined choirs on electric piano for a soaring rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Vocalists sported black slacks and jackets accented by festive red ties while a lone Christmas tree provided ambiance.  As strong as this performance was in all respects, further attention to stage dressing would have contributed to the holiday atmosphere.  Admittedly, maintaining the fine balance between setting and performance is a challenge, but emphasis at this first concert was, perhaps intentionally, placed squarely on performance.

Commenting on the success of the performance, director Vieyra alluded to the possibility of a spring concert.  With the strength and style of this performance still fresh in the memory, there is much melody and harmony lingering in the air to heighten the anticipation. Come spring!