Salute Our Heroes: Sal Cruz reflects on years as Topeka High drum line instructor

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 10:25 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -A Topeka High graduate’s love of music inspired him to come back years later and teach a new generation about his passion.

Sal Cruz says during his time as a student at Topeka high school, music was a major part of his life.

“When I left in 89′ it was some of the greatest memories I’ve ever had in my life that I still cherish and a lot of it was music. It was doing parades, and seeing people, and shaking hands, or people coming up saying that was really moving.”

It wasn’t until later in life when he was given the opportunity to share his passion for music with a younger generation.

“It started with me and a student banging on some trashcans and the legendary Mr. Holloman, who was the music teacher here, said why don’t you come and do that at a halftime show so we did and the crowd went nuts.”

“He said I want you to take that kind of style and energy and come back and teach it at Topeka high and make it the drum line, dancing around moving and grooving”

Flash forward years later and Cruz has turned the Topeka High drum line into a spectacle.

“We add choreography to it, we take like hip hop songs and we incorporate it into drum line, we have illusions of like explosions with powder we pour them into the symbols, its like theater, and drums, and dancing all together”

On Monday, the Topeka High drum line performed in front of the school as students returned for in person learning, marking one of the first times the band has played together since the pandemic.

“It brought back life into me and it brought back life into these kids you know excitement again, you know remote has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, seeing kids through a tiny little box and trying to keep them motivated that’s almost impossible.”

He says the pandemic presented overwhelming challenges but he believes it has made him a better teacher.

“Even when we make mistakes, which we’ll probably make a few today, I don’t get mad anymore, I use to get mad and say hey we’ve been over this all the time and now I just smile and I appreciate it and I love it and its changed me as a teacher and Its made me appreciate family and its super important to me and these kids I didn’t realize how important they were in my life until it was taken away.”

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