Rio Americano High School Band Room to be Rebuilt

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SACRAMENTO -- It's an end to an era, and start of a new one. Rio Americano High School bid farewell to it's music building from the 1960s.

"It's sort of hard to watch this because all of the memories in there, you know, and all that," Rio Americano student Nick Augusta said.

The piano player and his friends wrote messages on the whiteboards, before locking up the Rio Americano high school band room for good.

Josh Murray is the school's band director. He was the first to drill into the old cinder block building. While excited to teach in a shiny new facility come 2017, he said it was tough to see the old one go.

"I spent 19 years of my life in that building. I'll miss it," Murray said.

But, it was this 50-year-old building's time to go.

"It's going to be bigger, better, and more acoustically sound," Trent Allen from the San Juan Unified School District said.

The new and improved music facility will have a 350-seat floor-level performance stage with special ceiling and floor paneling, two state-of-the-art music classrooms, and a spacious lobby -- not bad for a high school band used to performing in their cafeteria.

"Our kids work very hard. They are talented. But when you get into a situation that it feels more professional, where they feel respected, it can't help but have positive results," Murray said.

It was not just bittersweet for the students and staff at Rio Americano, but also for the artist behind its gigantic, iconic mural.

"It does break my heart," Markos Egure said.

Just three years ago, Egure painted a small mural on the music building. But he said something about it just didn't seem right.

"It just looked better to take over the whole building, and command its message," Egure said.

So he donated the rest of his time and skills to paint the entire wall, making it a masterpiece that spoke for itself.

"It says to the community that music matters to Rio Americano. There was no way to save it, so we're hoping to hire him again to paint the new building," Murray said.

"The talent that's in there, and the talent that comes out of there. I hope to capture that in the next part of the building," Egure said.

Construction will not be complete until fall 2017, which means for incoming senior Augusta, he will just miss its opening.

"My sister will be here next year, so she'll be able to experience it. So I'll come back to visit it, hopefully to see it," Augusta said.