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Peters teen marches into All-American Marching Band

A Peters teen was chosen as one of the nation’s top high school musicians last week, earning a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.

Laura Bertoni, 17, was one of 100 musicians from around the nation chosen to play Jan. 8 in San Antonio during halftime at the All-American Bowl, which showcases some of the nation’s best high school football players.

“It’s just a huge honor. I’m really, really excited,” said Bertoni, whose audition DVD was selected from among 1,300 applicants. Bertoni, who will play alto saxophone in the band, will practice her music and marching on a special electronic pad.

“They give us a marching pad you plug into your computer to practice. … It’s kind of like a (Dance Dance Revolution) pad; it’s really neat,” she said.

Peters Township High School Band Director Milt Barney, who taught Laura for years through private lessons and at school, said she possesses the kind of dedication needed of elite musicians.

“When some students are younger, they have a focus in their mind of how they want to sound; they have a drive,” he said. “So it’s not a surprise to see this kind of recognition.”

Bertoni’s mother, Claudia, said her daughter practices for several hours almost every day, playing the piano and bari saxophone, in addition to the alto sax. At Peters, Laura has been in the marching band, jazz band, the wind symphony and a community group — made up of mostly retirees — called “Too Many Tubas.”

While Laura’s trip to Texas will be all-expenses paid, her parents plan to pay to accompany her and watch her play in the halftime show.

Army representatives presented Laura with a jacket, baseball cap and a black marching band cap with a yellow plume in a small ceremony last week attended by her fellow band members from school.

“To know someone who gets into (the All-American band) is very special,” Barney told the assembled students before turning to Laura. “A little piece of all of us is going to go with you.”


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