AGOURA (CBS) — For the first time ever the Agoura High School jazz band placed first at a high-profile jazz competition, beating out high schools from across the nation.

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The 22-member ensemble returned to school Monday, fresh off their win at the 2012 Swing Central High School Jazz Competition in Savannah, Georgia.

“We love each other and we’re unified. We loved playing together and that’s what put us on top,” said senior Alex Tuchman, who plays upright bass in the band.

Only 12 schools nationwide are accepted to the 3-day competition. Agoura was the only school from California to qualify and the only school competing that wasn’t a music academy high school.

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“We’re really focused on improv and not a lot of schools do that…a lot of schools stick to the page,” said senior Bryce Leafman, who plays the vibraphone.

Band director John Mosley said students earned the honor; Each band member practices about two hours a day on their own and collectively three times a week.

“Many of the students have been playing for a long time, starting in middle school and then in high school. You have to audition to get in,” Mosley said.

Students said they hope the recognition will help their chances of getting into the music industry.

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In the jazz program’s 20 years at Agoura High School, every student has gone on to a 4-year university with a scholarship.