UCS sophomore performs in Rose Parade on New Year’s Day

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 12, 2022

 Sophomore Braden Cook poses for a picture with Stevenson High School band director Michael Sekich. Cook was selected to perform New Year’s Day in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

Sophomore Braden Cook poses for a picture with Stevenson High School band director Michael Sekich. Cook was selected to perform New Year’s Day in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

Photo provided by Tim McAvoy

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — A Utica Community Schools sophomore was selected to perform in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day with the Salvation Army Marching Band.

Braden Cook, a Stevenson High School student, was selected to perform in the 133rd Tournament of Roses Parade as a percussionist in the Salvation Army’s approximately 200-member band. The Rose Parade precedes the Rose Bowl football game and features impressive floats, bands and other attractions. It is broadcast on several television networks during the morning of New Year’s Day.

Stevenson band director Michael Sekich said he was “super proud” of Cook. Cook has played the tenor drum for the past two years in the Marching Titans band.

“I am very proud of Braden. He always works hard to be the best he can be, not only as a musician, but as a human being. It was great to cheer him on that day from my family room,” Sekich said in an email to the Shelby-Utica News.

Sekich praised the initiative that Cook showed to get involved with another band.

“I encourage the kids to do that all of the time to get involved in extracurricular, higher-level performing groups. What they learn there, they will bring back to our ensembles and raise the bar even higher,” he said in a press release from Utica Community Schools.

Cook couldn’t be reached before the deadline for this story, but according to the school district, he and the other band members selected for the Rose Parade practiced regularly leading up to the parade. They gathered in California several days before the parade to put the finishing touches on their performance.

Cook’s passion for music reportedly began when he started playing the drums in junior high school. The press release states it was a logical choice for Cook, because he was “always tapping on things.”

Cook credited his parents and UCS band teachers for cultivating his skills and interest in music, and now it could turn into a career.

“Music is a connection. It can bring people together and help people through tough times. It can bring people to tears. I want to make people experience these things,” Cook stated in the press release.

Cook also has advice for others who may be thinking about becoming musicians.

“Stick with it in a way that is comfortable and (doesn’t) feel forced,” he stated in the release.

Cook is the second UCS student to perform in the Rose Parade with the Salvation Army Band. Jon Heaver, then a student at Heritage Junior High School, performed in the parade in 2006.

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