Come July 21, Hilltop High School will be back in session, and after 21 years, the Hilltop High Emerald Effect Marching Band will be stepping into new uniforms. Music director for the marching band, color guard, string orchestra and guitar class, Russel Corpuz said that Hilltop High Emerald Effect is coming back in a strong way and has big hopes for the band’s future.
“Hilltop High is one of Chula Vista’s oldest community and competition marching bands, with its history dating back to 1961,” he said. “One of our oldest, but more notably was the 1968 Rose Bowl Parade, Chula Vista’s only high school band to make it to the Rose Bowl Parade. After that, Hilltop High has been performing in community parades, the Starlight Yule Parade, the Mother Goose Parade, the old Chula Vista Parade, and from there it has maintained its strong sound and presence. Until now, where we are just getting new uniforms.”
Corpuz said 21 years is a bit too long comparative to other bands in Chula Vista, but 2020 afforded a good amount of funds. The Associated Student Body at Hilltop High graciously purchased these uniforms for them through Fred. J. Miller, Inc. Marching Band Uniforms.
“It has been needed, but strangely enough, what makes this look a little different is actually a callback to its older uniforms from the 1960s, where the band was most prominent,” he said. “It features old white applets on the shoulders allowing people that have seen this band back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to remember that white feeling. But it also has that new iconic green look. Our name is the Emerald Effect, so when you see us from the front, you will see an iconic emerald shield so you will remember the green look of Hilltop.”
Corpuz said the band and music program at Hilltop went “dark with a little bit of its disillusion in 2014 and 2016,” so morale wise, it is a feeling of coming back.
“It is a feeling of we have a history of it, but we can now remake our name and sound again as we build back up,” he said. “When these kids put on these new uniforms, and when the community sees these new uniforms, they can know that ‘Wow! Hilltop High is going to come back strong.’ It is only going to get better from here on out. That is what I want them to feel. It gives me joy to have them out there in the community. The goal is for the kids to feel the joy of performance. And the pride that they have when someone says ‘Look, its Hilltop’ or ‘Look its Chula Vista,’ that is something that I want them to earn.”
Corpuz said that is the love he wants to bring back for the band and he believes that the community has been aching for it, especially when the band was validated winning first place at the 2019 Starlight Yule Parade.
“That parade was the first time these kids have done marching music as well as practicing marching down a road,” he said. “From my seniors to freshmen, they have never legitimately marched down a road, and we won first place through their hard work and passion.”
Corpuz said the band is looking at coming back as the pandemic subsides and that it wants to perform the community because that is where the students receive their strength and pride in what they do. But in order to do that, he said there is still some more fundraising to be done. He said they need to repair aged equipment that is still usable, needs new storage place, new chairs and music stand, but mostly, needs funds for the band to travel to community events.
“I always ask people to find our Facebook @HilltopHighMusic,” he said. “I want to take the band to El Cajon to the Mother Goose Parade, the Linda Vista Community Parade, but we do need funds to do this. If you want to donate in directly impacting our band, please email me: Russell.Corpuz@sweetwaterschools.org. We are going to need as much help as we can.”