PaliHi Marching Band Welcomes New Leader

By Sarah Stockman
Palisades News Reporter

The Palisades Charter High School marching band is very well known to Palisades residents. Whether they’ve donated to band members at the farmer’s market or watched them perform on the Village Green, the band is a household name. Its popularity is due to the students’ talent, but also to its fearless bandleader Arwen Hernandez.

Hernandez will be saying good-bye to PaliHi after teaching here for eight years. She is moving to Edison High School in Huntington Beach starting this fall, a move that was precipitated by the birth of her son Teddy, who is now six months old.

Alexander Dale will take over as the band leader at Palisades High School, replacing Arwen Hernandez. Photo: Lesly Hall
Alexander Dale will take over as the band leader at Palisades High School, replacing
Arwen Hernandez. Photo: Lesly Hall

Hernandez and her husband, who live in Long Beach, believe that it will be easier for Teddy to have both his parents close by.

She has been teaching at Pali since February 2008. When she started, there were only 17 students in the marching band. Since then she has turned the band into an award-winning program. The marching band has won medals at the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) for the last three years, winning silver in 2013, gold in 2014, and bronze in 2015.

Hernandez is sad to leave. “I will always miss teaching at Pali. It was a privilege to spend time in this community with the people that made up the Pali Band family, including administrators, the Pali Boosters, the music teachers at Revere, my colleagues at Pali, supportive parents, our extremely talented coaching staff, and the most fearless, dedicated students I ever hoped to meet,” Hernandez said.

One of those fearless, dedicated students is Alex Dale, who will be taking over as bandleader at Pali.

Dale is a 2011 Pali graduate who went on to study music education and piano performance at Northwestern University in Chicago. However, he has remained a part of the Pali band program, returning every summer as an instructional coach.

“I assisted Ms. Hernandez in teaching marching band techniques, as well as some musical instruction,” Dale said.

Hernandez speaks highly of Dale. “I am thrilled that Alex will be working at Pali,” Hernandez said. “He was an exceptional student, as a musician and a student leader. I believe his musicianship, his experience in all applicable genres of performance, and his familiarity with PaliHi and Pacific Palisades make him the best possible person to lead the band.”

Daleknowshehasbigshoestofill.“Without [Ms. Hernandez’s] tireless dedication, this band would not have been able to achieve its current level of quality,” he said. “She brought a lot of specialized knowledge about marching band.”

Dale plans to continue in Ms. Hernan- dez’s footsteps. “My primary concern is that my students have the highest quality educational and musical experience during their time at Pali,” Dale said. “Many students find the marching band experience to be incredibly valuable, and I intend to keep that aspect of the program going.”

Dale grew up in the Palisades, although his parents have since moved away. He went to Paul Revere, where he played in the band under Mr. Miyoshi. He is an avid runner, although music has always been his passion.

“I’ve always dedicated my time to music, but it was really in college that I discovered my love for teaching,” Dale said.

In addition to marching band, he’ll be teaching wind ensemble, freshmen general music classes and drum line.

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