More than 100 Pace High School students gave their classmate Elizabeth Gordon a standing ovation as she was inducted into the US Army All American Marching Band in a ceremony Monday in the band hall.
Gordon, a senior, was one of 125 students selected nationwide out of 4,000 applicants. It is the first time anyone from Pace High School has received the honor.
But when Gordon first found out she’d been selected, she couldn’t believe it.
“I freaked out because I didn’t think I would get it,” she said with a big smile. “There are only four of us from Florida, and the other ones are from South Florida. It was really unexpected, and I was really happy.”
Gordon will get an all-expenses-paid trip to San Antonio, Texas, to march in the January U.S. Army All-American Bowl halftime show.
“It’s a huge honor because nobody from Pace has ever done it before,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work, but it’s going to pay off.
Gordon was nominated by band director Anthony Denaro. She also had to get a principal recommendation, and submit videos of her musical abilities, her performance within the band, and her marching skills. Grades and leadership are counted in the equation as well.
“It means a lot for her to receive this honor,” Denaro said. “She’s worked hard for four hears. She excels as a musician, she excels as an academic in the classroom, she’s at the top of her class. She leads by example, and she’s certainly deserving of this honor. She worked hard for it and she got it, so I congratulate her on it.”
Denaro received an Army ball cap during the presentation, to the delight of the crowd.
“It’s a great achievement of what the Army stands for, such as loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage, and these individuals exemplify those attributes in everyday life, in school, in training,” said Selection Tour Representative John Cahill.
He and several representatives from the US Army presented the award, and gave Elizabeth a jacket and black-plumed marching band hat.
“They must exhibit exceptional musicianship, marching achievement, character and leadership,” Cahill said. And Elizabeth has all these things.