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'Doing right' in Brentwood

Brentwood’s High School marching band has won three state championships and scores of local titles since its inception more than four decades ago. The 146-member Green Machine is the face of the school and the community, says band director Joe Sitler (Brentwood ’89). Newsday’s Alejandra Villa Loarca conceived the idea for these photos and her short documentary “Green Machine” after spending two years documenting gang violence that has brought national attention to the community. “I saw that with all the negativity, the marching band is a beacon of hope,” says Villa Loarca. “It’s one of the solutions to the problem of violence. This is one of the things Brentwood is doing right.” She spent months with the band, including in the run-up to the state Field Band Conference Championships in October in Syracuse. Competing in the annual event is the culmination of years of work for many students. “We love what we do,” said saxophone section leader Lisa Manbodh, a senior. “We will be together to make it come alive for this final show. Every person in the audience knows who we are.” 

Members of the Green Machine during rehearsal at
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Members of the Green Machine during rehearsal at Brentwood High School. 

The Green Machine, which begins practicing in July,
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Green Machine, which begins practicing in July, gets ready for its Annual Band Show in September. “I tell parents flat-out, ‘From July to October, I am going to know your children better than you do,’” director Joe Sitler says.

The color guard, one-third of the Green Machine,
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The color guard, one-third of the Green Machine, visually interprets the music through dance and such props as flags.

Seniors Frank Grey and Kaylee Frias and junior
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Seniors Frank Grey and Kaylee Frias and junior Jackie Ruiz — all part of the 33-member color guard — share a moment High School in preparation for their trip to Syracuse where they will compete in the annual NY State Field Band Conference championship show, Sunday Oct. 28, 2018. The championship is the culmination of the Green Machine’s 2018 season that started in May with strict rehearsals and shows for the 150 member band.at the high school. 

Ruben Nunez, a senior, and Kymberli Gomez, a
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Ruben Nunez, a senior, and Kymberli Gomez, a sophomore, relax at the end of Brentwood’s Annual Band Show on Sept 16. 

Ruben Nunez, left, gathers other tuba players in
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Ruben Nunez, left, gathers other tuba players in lively embrace after the band’s exhibition performance at Brentwood’s Annual Band Show, an event that kicks off the Green Machine’s season.

he Green Machine exits the field after performing
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

he Green Machine exits the field after performing in this year’s Annual Band Show in Brentwood. Of the 146 members in the marching band, 40 were new this year, says director Joe Sitler.

Green Machine horn line members have a little
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Green Machine horn line members have a little fun as they wait to participate in October in Newsday’s Marching Band Festival in Uniondale.

Senior Eros Chicas and junior Kaylie Zelayandia, both
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Senior Eros Chicas and junior Kaylie Zelayandia, both flute players, on the bus ride to the state Field Band Conference Championships in Syracuse. The five-hour journey included periods of exuberant song and dance. 

At an impromptu pep rally, baritone saxophonist Christian
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

At an impromptu pep rally, baritone saxophonist Christian Odom, third from left, Syracuse, Sunday Oct. 28, 2018. Tonight’s championship is the culmination of the Green Machine’s 2018 season that started in May with strict rehearsals and shows for the 150 member band.tells his bandmates winning or losing doesn’t matter — but “leave everything you can on that field.”

Bianca Bacchus, a senior who plays the
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Bianca Bacchus, a senior who plays the mellophone (or marching French horn), gets ready for the annual state competition

Kaitlyn Dicks, a sophomore in the color guard,
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Kaitlyn Dicks, a sophomore in the color guard, brims with emotion in the final moments before the annual state Field Band Conference Championships in Syracuse.

Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

“We were tuning and making last-minute preparations for our show,” band director Joe Sitler said of this moment. “I don’t want them thinking this is their last show — even though for a lot of them, that’s the case. I want them ready, focused.

Final practice outside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Final practice outside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. “Band Conference championship show, Sunday Oct. 28, 2018. Tonight’s championship is the culmination of the Green Machine’s 2018 season that started in May with strict rehearsals and shows for the 150 member band.It’s my last one,” saxophone section leader and senior Lisa Manbodh said before the show, “and I’m getting all jittery.”

Lisa Manbodh waits pensively to hear the band's
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Lisa Manbodh waits pensively to hear the band’s score (it finished last in a field of eight). Before the show, she was philosophical. “We’re not just a halftime show,” she said. “We’re 150 different stories working for the same goal.”

Mellophone player Bianca Bacchus, a senior, is overwhelmed
Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Mellophone player Bianca Bacchus, a senior, is overwhelmed with emotion after the Green Machine’s performance in the state Field Band Conference Championships — as for many of her bandmates, it would be her last. 

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