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Every day of the week, the 105 members of the North High School Marching Band arrive at school during the unholy hour of 6 in the morning -- three days a week at 6:45, and two days at 6 a.m. sharp for instrument-section practice, followed by full band practice. 

By 7:55 a.m, still an unfortunate time to be awake, they join their peers at school. 

Fifteen-year-old Jasmine Arellano, a sophomore member of the band's color guard, seems to have made peace with the early mornings. Moreover, she finds the experience invigorating. 

North High School marching band

North High School color guard member Abril Ayon checks her set chart during an early-morning practice.

"It's actually really energizing, you wake up and start doing all this and get just a burst of energy, and you're ready for the day!" Arellano said. 

Reed Adajar, a 16-year-old junior and a drum major, was also chipper in spite of the early hours. (Word to the wise: a drum major is like a conductor; he can play saxophone, but not the drums.)

"Marching band is a place I want to be," Adajar said. "It's not that hard to get up because I like what I'm doing every day. Being a drum major is really fun.

"There's not a day where I wake up and I'm like, 'Oh I just don't want to go to marching band,' because, I kind of have to be there and I want to be there." 

The band is readying itself for the 22nd annual Starfest, a marching band competition held Sept. 28. The band has been rehearsing its half-time and competition performances since Aug. 5.

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North High's Marching Band, as the host of the invitational competition, will perform at the event but will not compete with the other bands.

Sixteen school marching bands from South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa will take part in the contest, held at Olsen Stadium at Morningside College. Most Sioux City schools perform at the competition. 

North High School marching band

Drum major Reed Adajar listens to instructor Brian Cole (not shown) during an early-morning marching band practice Aug. 29 at the Sioux City school. The band has been rehearsing its half-time and competition program since Aug. 5.

Natasha Bouwers, president of the school's band parents' group and the mother of marching band trumpet player of Jaysen Bouwers, said funds raised through the event's tickets, concessions and souvenir T-shirts fill a significant portion of the North High School bands' coffers. 

"It's our biggest fundraiser of the year. It's about a third of what we need to make everything work for the season," Bouwers said. 

Appropriately enough for a competition called Starfest, the band will play a selection of pieces titled "Into the Cosmos"-- an arrangement of spacey music that the students themselves selected.

"A loose guide to the music would be kind of a takeoff, an exploration of space, and then a triumphant return back home," band director Brian Cole said. "These are all original arrangements, so it's nothing that anybody's really heard before." 

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