Journey of a Leader in the Panther Band

Saniya Kishnani shares her thoughts about her year.

The Panther Band has long believed in a strong student-run structure.  There is a solid leadership hierarchy which enables the many activities, events and competitions to run smoothly, and binds the group as a strong family.  The Drum Major and Band Council President are the two highest levels of student leadership in the Panther Band program, and Saniya Kishnani held the intense job of Band Council President for the 2011-2012 year.  

What was the hardest thing about being in your position? Sometimes, things got very overwhelming…like if there was a crazy band week and a lot of homework, college applications, and other stuff on top of that - so it was often hard to juggle everything, including spending time with my family and putting enough time into all of it. 

How about the most surprising thing?  One thing I was not ready for was the amount of time I devoted to my job. Granted, Austin Rennels (Drum Major) and I probably put in more time than was necessary, but it ended up helping us out in the end. We have a good relationship and can work well together, and we also have a really good relationship with Mr. Martin. I'm pretty sure he's going to miss us!

What did you find to be the scariest moment?   Stepping into the position of Band Council President at the beginning and planning Band Camp. Band Camp is so involved and there are so many details that it’s even difficult to wrap your mind around. It’s also somewhat like the "first test" for the leadership so you want to do well.

What was your favorite memory about being President?  Being able to do so much for the band! Also knowing everyone, beyond just their name, and being there for them, whether it was a question or as a friend. I also enjoyed getting to know Mr. Martin better, in a different light; I've gained a lot of respect for him over this past year. I loved getting to know and working with the Band Council. They are a great group of people and I've learned so much from them. We have crazy traditions and inside jokes and I'm so lucky to know them.

What would you like to be remembered for?  I hope I was able to make a lasting impression on at least some of the other, younger band members. I want this year to be remembered as a great year, one of the best. And I hope that people will come to us for advice for years to come. It would be awesome if the current freshmen came to us when they were seniors.  If we were able to build that kind of a relationship and gain that much respect, especially from the underclassmen, then it was a job well done. 

What skill did you learn that you will take with you in life? Definitely responsibility and time management, but also being accountable and trustworthy.  One of the biggest things I'll take away from this is to constantly be learning, whether it's from your own actions or from other people and leaders.

Are there other things you’d like to say? Austin and I developed a great relationship. Before this year, we only talked a little bit in AP U.S. History in junior year.  This past year, some days we spent most of 5th and 6th period talking about band stuff. We learned to work together well, to solve problems and lead the band in the best way that we could. We went to each other for support in tough times and celebration in the good times. Together, with Mr. Martin and the band, we have made this past year very successful.

It's not about any individual person or a few people, but about the band as a whole. Each one of us grows so much from start to finish, especially the leadership and it is very true that we wouldn’t be half as great as a band or people without Mr. Martin. He has such an impact on our lives and shaping us into the young adults that we become. He pushes us to our potential and believes in us before we fully believe in ourselves. The student leadership within the band is not like other student leaderships that you see at most schools or other organizations. We don't just plan events and enforce the rules; we help build up the band and constantly work to make it better. I hope we've been able to do just that and have created a good foundation for those after us. 

Saniya’s parents were asked to say something about their daughter.

"Saniya has grown a lot over the two years that she has been on Band Council and being President. She has gained a lot of maturity, leadership skills and life skills in that position. I don't know if you remember that she had tried out for band council when she was a rising sophomore and was not selected - she took that experience and channeled her energies in turning it around positively the next year.  She became President and had an extremely successful year.  Last week, the past five presidents met over coffee and discussed their terms and their experiences and Saniya was very proud to be part of this group.  As parents, we have seen her grow and gain a lot of confidence.  The day she was announced as President, she and Austin made a pact to be a team and to make their year the 'Best Year Ever,' a memorable year that won't be forgotten for a long time." 

She will put these tools to good use, as she prepares to attend Stanford University in the fall.


Do you subscribe to the Benicia Patch newsletter? It brings our latest stories, blogs, announcements and the day's calendar events to your in-box early each morning.

Do you have opinions, experiences and views to share? Consider becoming a Benicia Patch blogger!

If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email
him at


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »