By Chris McKinnon

MELROSE (CBS) — Big honors for the Melrose High School Marching Band as they represented Massachusetts at the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.

The 70 musicians and color guard team boarded buses this past Friday morning to make the journey to the nation’s capital to march on Monday.

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The honor caps off a year of hard work, earning high marks in competition and gold medal for the color guard squad. It continued right up until the band left for D.C. with a final dress rehearsal two weekends ago.

There was no cruising to the finish, not even for the seniors with just a week to go until graduation. Drum major Alexis Csicsek is one of them.

“It’s go time,” she said.

Csicsek is the conductor of this train, making sure everyone marches in sync and “making sure nobody gets lost or left behind.”

She, like many of the other seniors in the band, started in eighth grade. Csicsek played trumpet, watching the band grow and improve.

Now, she’s leading the band’s biggest march yet, straight down to the National Mall. Csicsek wanted it to go perfectly, to send her fellow seniors off on a high note.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she says. “It’s sort of been everything to us.

The band was expected to march to a medley of patriotic songs. Playing them in D.C. to honor our nation’s fallen service members came with the added pressure to be perfect.

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“We’ve seen a lot of impressive marching band in our years,” said Tara Peterson, color guard co-captain.

“I really want to be able to do them all justice.”

The band’s march toward perfection started months ago. Long practices, repeating the drills until each note, each step was taken as one.

Members of the Melrose High School Marching Band rehearse ahead of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. (WBZ-TV)

Members of the Melrose High School Marching Band rehearse ahead of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C. (WBZ-TV)

“It’s so time consuming but it’s so worth it because when you go out there and you perform, it’s the best feeling,” color guard co-captain Jen Cardozo.

Melrose Band Director Matt Repucci says the long hours aren’t just about becoming a good performer but also learning what life is about.

Repucci wants his students to learn about hard work, balancing different challenges and how to accomplish goals. He said the kids’ hard work this season really paid off in a big way for them.

“We’re not the biggest marching band out there and we try to say it’s not how many people are in the band, but how hard the band works,” he said, adding that the group showed “grit” getting through a busy year.

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You can tell how proud Repucci is of his band and while he’s sending a group of seniors off after the parade, he is confident there is a bright future ahead as his band continues to grow and get better each year.