KRUM — A Krum High School student selected to play with the Macy’s Great American Marching Band in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is selling homemade salsa to fund her trip to New York.
District officials said Valeria Ibarra, an incoming junior and trumpet player, is the first student from Krum invited to perform with the band, which has more than 220 top high school performers from across the country. To date, she is one of nine from Texas invited to perform with the band in November, according to a band event coordinator.
“I’m kind of nervous, but I’m really excited,” Ibarra said. “This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It feels good just to know that I’m not a senior yet ... and I’ve accomplished so much.”
Her performances at previous band contests earned her an invitation to play with the Great American Marching Band, Ibarra said, adding that she received the news from her band director.
While she hasn’t received the music for the Thanksgiving Day performance yet, Ibarra intends to start practicing as soon as it arrives.
According to parade organizers, 3 million spectators are expected to line the parade route Nov. 28 in New York City. About 50 million are expected to watch on TV.
Expenses for Ibarra’s participation, minus airfare, total more than $1,500. At $5 a jar, she is accepting orders for salsa now through mid-October. She’s offering a $1 discount to people who bring back the same jar for a refill.
“It’s a lot of hot sauce, but I can do it,” she said.
The independent 16-year-old said she doesn’t just want her parents to pay her way — she wants to earn it. Her parents have provided her with a loan for ingredients, and Ibarra plans to repay the loan and save money for her trip to New York.
Ibarra said it feels good knowing she’s doing something for herself.
“My mom has always been a really hardworking woman, and I’ve always wanted to be half the woman she is because she does everything. She works for everything and she does so many things,” Ibarra said. “If I want to be like my mom, I’m going to have to be hardworking like she is, and I’m going to have to earn stuff that I want and not just be greedy.”
Doing for herself to fund the things she wants is nothing new to Ibarra. Since sixth grade, she’s sold homemade salsa to fund her participation in church youth camp and a recent mission trip to New Mexico.
For that trip, Ibarra said, she stayed up until 2 a.m. filling orders. Her last order was for more than 165 jars of salsa, according to her parents.
“Late at night, I stay up because I definitely know it’s going to pay off,” Ibarra said.
She has played trumpet since the sixth grade. She intended to play the clarinet or saxophone, she said, but picked up trumpet when the son of her mother’s friend decided he no longer wanted to pursue music and gave her his instrument. Ibarra said she fell in love with it.
It was a “blessing in disguise,” she said.
“When I play, I don’t just play, but I kind of relieve stress,” Ibarra said. “When I’m just tired or upset, I go to my trumpet.”
Ibarra is the first-chair trumpet, trumpet section leader and an officer with the Krum High marching band, which was established just two years ago. She performs with the school’s jazz band and wind ensemble and, since seventh grade, she’s attended the Mariachi Aguilitas Summer Camp at the University of North Texas.
Last school year, Ibarra made the all-state band for the Association of Texas Small School Bands and received a first-division rating with a trumpet trio and as a solo performer at a recent state competition.
Carol Turner, Krum’s head band director, said that after Ibarra’s solo at the state contest, the judge offered her a scholarship to his music camp and gave her a 15-minute private lesson.
“She’s fearless,” Turner said. “You put anything in front of her, and she’s going to go for it. She’s like that in every aspect of her life. She’s going to go for it.”
Turner said she looks forward to seeing her student perform in the parade.
“I think the whole town is going to be watching the parade that day to see if we can spot her because that’s big news in Krum,” Turner said.
Peers call Ibarra a leader. Her leadership was evident Thursday morning during Krum High’s Marching Band Camp.
It’s just about an hour after sunrise. Ibarra, alongside a saxophone section leader, is leading a group of band members in marching techniques. Counting them off, she leads them in marching forward and then backward for eight counts from one yard line to another on the school parking lot.
When she sees someone not quite making the mark in eight counts, she falls in line alongside that person, the tips of her feet in the air. Ibarra works alongside them, instructing band members until they meet the mark.
“OK. You got it,” Ibarra tells a band mate. “Perfect.”
She sets a good example, drum major Christian Leal said.
“She’s someone I kind of look up to,” Leal said. “She deserves that, I guess, and it kind of inspires me to work harder because it makes us feel like we can do that someday.”
Valeria’s mother and father, Priscilla and Felipe Ibarra, say they’re proud parents. Priscilla Ibarra said they’re proud their daughter takes pride in her music, delights others with her playing and remains humble.
“I’m overwhelmed with humbleness that her talent has flourished as much as it has, and all on an instrument she wasn’t intending to play in sixth grade,” Priscilla Ibarra said. “It seems like an unreachable goal. We’re in Texas, and she’s picked out of thousands and thousands of students. For her to be selected is amazing.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.
HOW TO HELP
To submit an order for Valeria Ibarra’s homemade salsa, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. People can also support her by making a donation to an account established in her name at Northstar Bank.