Brand new Odessa High School Band Director Sonia Campos is hoping for a successful year.

Having started practice July 25, Campos said she has 150 students so far. Summer band will end Monday with a 13-hour day. The OHS band goes through its paces in the parking lot of the Ector County ISD School Nutrition Department.

“We’re really excited that (the) kids are really buying into the system and they’re really committing themselves to showing up and just really pushing themselves to get themselves better each and every rep,” Campos said.

“I’m really excited just to have the commitment level of the students. As a new director, you always fear that. That’s something that you always have in the back of your head, but it’s definitely been a positive experience so far. We’re just excited to showcase them here pretty quick,” she added.

Campos replaces John Mayo who is now retired.

Jimmy Olague, assistant band director and percussion instructor, has stayed on the staff and Eric Montgomery, a Kentucky native, has been added.

“He’s really bringing a lot to the table. He’s been part of some marching band groups in the past and we’re really excited to see what he can bring to us in West Texas,” Campos said.

This is Campos’ first year directing a high school band. She was previously at Crockett Middle School.

Their theme this year is “Red,” a Latin tour around the world.

“It’s just different. … The whole marching band aspect, of course, but it’s more about dealing with older students. They’re really not that much different than middle school students. They want a lot of guidance; they want a lot of support and I’m willing to give that to them, so I’m excited to see what we can make happen,” Campos said.

She added that she’s expecting 50 to 100 students to join once the school year starts.

“A lot of our students travel during this time and coming on as a new director, I didn’t have a lot of time to send out information or have contact information for all our students. … I think next school year, we’re definitely going to see an (increase) in our summer band numbers. I’m really excited about that because we just need everybody here … to learn what we have to learn together,” Campos said.

OHS’ first football game is at home Aug. 26 vs. Lubbock Monterrey.

“We still have time to get ourselves adjusted, acquainted and meet each other and start trusting each other. You have to build those relationships and we’ve been doing that quite well. Our students, like I said, have been … working their butts off. … They’re trying to soak in all the new information and they’re really buying into the new form of marching. We’re doing straight-leg marching this school year. The kids are really learning, especially my upperclassmen, that are used to something different. They’ve really come on board and are really buying into the system, so we’re really excited about that. We’re building fundamentals quite a bit right now and it’s definitely paying dividends because our sound is continuously getting bigger and bigger …,” she added.

With straight-leg marching, you shouldn’t see any bent legs going as the musicians move forward, Campos said.

“We’re really excited to bring that to the table. It’s just a different form and it’s something that’s being used widely across the state of Texas in competitive marching bands,” she added.

This is a state competition year for OHS.

“State is always something that all bands want to go for. My philosophy is to build the whole student through music education. If we do our jobs here in every practice, we should be rewarded with really great opportunities, and we’re hoping that state will be one of those,” she added.

Seventeen-year-old senior Aaron Ramirez is a drum major. He has been in band since sixth grade.

“I really enjoy being in my leadership position. I like to help people and I like seeing what’s going on; seeing a problem that we have in the band and being able to fix it,” Ramirez said.

He added that there is a lot of change in the group this year.

“But a lot of it is good change. I really think we’re going to improve a lot this year and a lot of those changes are for the better,” Ramirez said.

He added that he feels the band will get better as the year goes on.

Dianey Salgado, a 17-year-old senior, is the section leader for trumpets. She has been in band for seven years.

Salgado said she feels Campos is a good motivator.

“… We’re definitely a lot smaller in numbers than the past couple of years, but the quantity doesn’t matter; it’s more … the quality of the band,” she said.

Creating bonds with her section is one of the things she enjoys about band.

But, “The games are one of my favorite things ever.”

“I like being busy, so having that distraction for me is something really amazing for me,” Salgado said.