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Parkland High School band spreads cheer with virtual performance of ‘Amazing Grace’

The Parkland High School band's wind ensemble performs in a virtual world.
The Parkland High School band's wind ensemble performs in a virtual world.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The Parkland High School band, in the Ysleta Independent School District, is hoping to spread a little cheer during these difficult times.

The wind ensemble, led by band director Rebecca Rodriguez, has published its rendition of 'Amazing Grace' on social media.

"I just kept going through my brain trying to figure out how I can continue making music with my students," Rodriguez said.

This version is a little different in the era of social distancing. Each band member is playing from the comfort of their own home.

"The very first assignment that she gave us for when we started our online schooling was this project for 'Amazing Grace,'" Katherine Engle, a senior clarinet player, said.

The students recorded their version individually with headphones in to avoid picking up any background noise. That's when Rodriguez took over.

"Once they uploaded their videos then it was on me to download everything."

Rodriguez took her stab at editing with the help of some advice from others.

"When it started coming along together, I'm not going to lie, I got pretty emotional. I found myself getting teary-eyed throughout making the product."

The final result -- a 3-minute, 36-second video.

"I was just ecstatic with the sound of it, the overall outcome of it."

"It was really beautiful," Engle said, who hadn't seen the video until Wednesday. "I could see all of these people that I had bonded with over all these years -- these people I loved, people who are practically my siblings at this point. I saw it and it was so beautiful. I started crying."

Coronavirus 'demolished' senior year

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is far-reaching.

YISD has announced students won't return to class for the remainder of the school year.

"It was hard knowing that my senior year basically got demolished because of the coronavirus," Engle said. "It feels like everything was just taken away from me, like the ground beneath me crumbled."

Rodriguez says the seniors are keeping a positive attitude despite how crushing this has been for them, especially not getting to participate in UIL competitions.

"Kids are resilient," Rodriguez said. "They're trying to spin this as a positive as much as possible."

"[The video] represents that we still have connection," Engle said. "We're separate, we're apart, but we're all in it together."

Parkland band's 'Amazing Grace' is a 'gift'

The video quickly swept through the Parkland High School community, but it is now getting more broad attention.

The original video racked up more than 3,000 views in a day.

"I want [strangers] to feel they're not alone," Engle said. "Even though they don't know me, I don't know them, that we still made this for them. As long as it touches someone's heart that's what matters. They're not alone. We're with them. We're all standing together. It's our gift to them."

"I just wanted to bring light to that situation and remind everyone that even though we're in dark times right now, the light will come back and we'll be able to be together again soon," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says she has a few more projects in the mind before they officially say farewell to this year's senior class.

In the video player below, you can watch the entire performance.

Article Topic Follows: Education

Erik Elken

Erik Elken co-anchors ABC-7’s flagship newscasts.


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