Michele Friszell's son Daniel, 14, now a freshman at Point Loma High, joined the band this year. Both the underclassmen and upperclassmen work under the band's director, John Dally; and according to Friszell, Dally has a way with the students.
"Band director John Dally has the respect of these kids," she said. "It is just amazing the discipline and control that he has and I really think that he is blessed and he is blessing our kids with his teaching."
In 2003, Dally was a senior at Point Loma Nazarene University when he first heard about the Point Loma's band director vacancy. Dan Nelson, director of bands at PLNU, along with the PLHS principal at the time, hatched a plan to offer him the position. Despite juggling all his duties as a full-time student involved in concert and jazz band, as well as Rugby Club president, Dally leapt at the chance, as it had been his dream of directing a high school band since he was a high school freshman. He graduated from PLNU with a Bachelor of Arts in music education and finished his California teaching credential while on the job.
"I think the new enthusiasm (for our music program) comes down from the notion that success breeds success. When people see good things happening and a positive energy, it is contagious. Then they want to be a part of it," Dally said. "It has surged throughout the high school and as we have continuity of education at the high school, we are establishing a tradition where quality music is born."
The high school band features multiple ensembles that play everything from classical to modern music. Every year the group puts out a CD and now boasts three discs. The group also tears it up every year during a highly anticipated spring concert.
"I think we are always on the quest for unattainable perfection and I think it is just a wonderful challenge to play something better every time," he said. "Music is just so diverse that it lends itself the challenge of finding better ways to do things and I think it is one of those almost addicting patterns of trying to do something better."
The Point Loma music department's theme is "Connecting students, school and community through music," a motto that fits well with Dally's pursuit of success. He and his supporters have raised the bar even further by setting out to become a nationally recognized music program. To help them along, plans are in the works to expand the school's music center.
"The center has been probably a four-year effort and the reason is that our music program has undergone tremendous growth recently and now over 200 students are involved with the music program and that is 10 percent of the school involved in music, which is pretty phenomenal," said John C. Bauer, chair of the music center initiative and board member of the Point Loma High School Foundation and Alumni Association.
Currently, the school has one small music room, though the thriving program needs two.
"The focus has been to create a state-of-the-art music facility for the high school and not just a room where people play music," Bauer said. "We want to create a new place that preserves some of the architectural features of the building and we want to make it aesthetically pleasing."
The school and its foundation have partnered with the San Diego Unified School District to fund the center. To date, the capital campaign has already raised around $400,000, but lacks another $200,000 to get the job done right and transform the school's unused woodshop "“ built in 1936 "“ into a center that will house the All-City Honor Band, and the PLHS choir, concert band, marching band and orchestra.
Dally said he looks forward to the day when the new center stands in stark contrast to the old, just like in "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy leaves Kansas and arrives in Oz.
"When people walk into this music center that is the experience that they will have and that is one of our goals to have them walk from outside where it is black and white and then you go inside and it is beautiful, magical and colorful."
For information see www.plhsfaa.com.