The Peoria High School

The Peoria High School Panther Marching Band was invited to next year’s National Memorial Day Parade by Rep. Debbie Lesko.

The Peoria High School Panther Marching Band is headed to Washington, D.C., to entertain crowds and represent Arizona at the National Memorial Day Parade. 

The band was invited to the May 29, 2022, event by Rep. Debbie Lesko. Peoria High School is a Title I school. Therefore, the students must raise funds to participate in the music program and marching band events. The $1,600 per student goal will cover the trip expenses, such as meals, transportation and hotel costs. 

“It’s a really exciting trip,” said Jeffrey Malone, band director. “They’re going to see almost everything D.C. has to offer. They’re going to see the Smithsonian museums. They’re going to go up and down the National Mall, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard, and bus tours. We’re honored for this experience.”

The band has 65 musicians, and Malone said he’s grateful for the opportunity. Chances like the D.C. trip or competitions against area schools are learning experiences for the teens. He added the kids are inspired, creative and ready to go. 

“We’re back in rehearsals,” said Malone, who is in his fourth year at Peoria High School. “We’re ready to participate in competitions and festivals and travel around the state. We didn’t have the opportunity last year. The students stuck it out, though, and made the most of last year. 

“They’ve taken every opportunity to learn and get better. It’s been a great start to the school year already.”

Seniors Aiden Rodriguez, the band’s drum major, and Zachary Sloan are looking forward to the event. 

“I’m most excited about us being the only band in Arizona representing the state,” Rodriguez said. “This is a great opportunity to show what we stand for.

“For the past two years, we’ve spent Memorial Day playing taps, which is an honor. This is awesome.”

Sloan is thrilled because Peoria High School has never had this opportunity. Both admitted they’re a little nervous, mostly because of the unknown. The song list won’t be finished until early next year. 

Sloan plays the euphonium, a valved brass musical instrument resembling a small tuba of tenor pitch, played mainly in military and brass bands. Rodriguez plays the saxophone in the marching band. 

“I’m happy to get to do something so special,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just excited to go and travel and experience this. It’s a nice way to wrap up my senior year.”

To donate to the Panther Band Booster Club, email