ILWACO — There was a moment during Ilwaco High School band camp when Rachel Lake looked across at her senior drum major and simply smiled.
The expression signaled more than just a belief that her student musicians will be in capable hands as they march across the Fisherman football field this fall.
It signaled pride.
Earlier this year, her daughter Emma Lake was chosen by fellow band members to lead them.
“She is a strong leader and has a passion for marching and pep band — like her mom,” said Rachel Lake, who has taught at Ilwaco for 11 years.
“It will be hard to see her graduate in the spring, but she has many goals for this year’s seasons, so it will be an adventure.”
Emma Lake is about to start her senior year with her dream job. “It is such an honor. The students voted me in,” she said.
Earlier this year, she traveled to a training camp for student music leaders. “It was amazing,” she said. “It gave me more confidence in being a leader.”
At a three-day camp in Ilwaco, the students stepped out onto their home football field to literally go through their paces — in one case counting 76 steps from the sideline on to centerfield.
At the rear of a line of 15 students who attended Thursday, sophomore Violet Boulton’s precise snare drum tapped out their cadence as Rachel Lake called corrections to their spacing — so crucial to the appearance of marching instrumentalists.
Later, the group worked in the cluttered band room learning their music. Their repertoire ranges from the Star-Spangled Banner and the IHS fight song to works by Bob Dylan.
During a break in the action, when asked about goals for the year, Emma Lake pointed to a set of hand-written posters taped to the wall. Having fun, creating memories, improving skills, “learning from others around us,” showing school spirit and enjoying the music are the listed priorities.
And, simply, “be the best band we can be.”
Emma Lake said the group is revisiting the marching style it exhibited a couple of years ago. The challenge, she added, is explaining these routines to the group, which includes all four high school grade levels, plus some Ilwaco Middle School students.
The band’s schedule consumes the entire fall and includes a fund-raising car wash. They will march in parades at South Bend Fun Day, Leavenworth Autumn Leaf Festival and Onalaska Apple Festival.
They will perform during halftime shows at football games featuring the University of Washington (with 20 other bands) and Washington State University (with an anticipated 500 student musicians).
After fall, band members move indoors for the winter and perform as the IHS pep band, which usually swells their numbers.
For the Lakes, music is a year-round passion. Emma Lake plays baritone saxophone and several more instruments. Her brother Christopher, a sophomore, is an enthusiastic trumpet player who demonstrated considerable skill with the jazz band last spring.
The Ilwaco senior laughed when asked the inevitable question about any conflicting priorities between adult director and student leader.
“We don’t get into any arguments about marching band,” Emma Lake smiled, looking over to her mom, whose hair was dyed a ferocious pink on that day. “We have a good relationship.”