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HOMER-CENTER: Marching band to get new uniforms

by on March 21, 2014 10:55 AM

CENTER TOWNSHIP — Look for the marching band members at Homer-Center High School to be suited up in sharp-looking new uniforms when they step out for band festivals, parades and football games this fall.

Band Director Jon Stolarz and district school board members Thursday evening reviewed a recommendation for new outfits, and hashed out details over fabric, the kinds of hats, and where the school name and logo would appear.

For board members, the design they ultimately approve will come down to a black-and-white issue.

The uniforms must be black and white, the school colors, directors said.

Spec photos of the proposed uniforms, showing some gray features, didn’t pass board muster, but directors were on board with rest of the design, a combination of traditional and modern looks.

Staff, administration and board members have had some input, and Stolarz said the student musicians’ opinions played into the recommendation.

“I’m a traditional band uniform kind of person, but the more I listened to them … the more the kids got excited about having something that is fresh, that makes them stand out,” Stolarz said.

“The design they came back with is a blend of the two, with the traditional band hats — the shakos — and the modern look that the kids can get behind and enjoy.”

Stolarz recommended a design by Fred J. Miller Inc., known as FMJ, of Miamisburg, Ohio. A set of 80 uniforms to outfit the growing Wildcats Marching Band could cost more than $40,000, an expense that the school board is willing to split with the band boosters organization, said board President Vicki Smith.

Stolarz said he’s been studying options for replacing the band’s current uniforms for several months, and relied on some personal experience with uniforms he wore as a band member in high school and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“This look is where everyone’s headed. Not everyone’s there yet, but the majority are,” Stolarz said. Uniforms from FMJ, he said, are most comfortable, absorb fewer odors, and are easily cleaned and maintained.

“Think of it as Under Armour for band kids,” he said. “It’s a different new material. The top drum corps in the world are wearing these uniforms.”

Stolarz said the musicians steered away from headgear that look like cowboy hats, helmets and berets, and prefer the traditional shako, a hat topped with a plume that makes the musicians look taller.

Board members said they like a feature where cutouts in the uniforms allow the musicians to use different colored inserts to add highlights to match special events and occasions, such as pink for breast cancer awareness.

“The board’s main concerns are the colors,” board President Vicki Smith said. “We want strictly black and white, and would like to avoid the gray. And the red should be minimal …”

“You’ve done your homework well, to get this put together for us,” said director Julie Rado. “But if we could maybe get the colors to the black and white, that would be a big thing.”

Stolarz, a music teacher at Homer-Center for six years, estimated that the present uniforms are at least 10 years old; they feature gold highlights that board members said should not be part of the color scheme.

The uniforms are near the end of their useful life. They’ve been tailored over and over to fit the students, and the school also does not have enough.

“We’re projecting about 80 musicians next fall. We had 55 this past year,” Stolarz said.

“I am confident that together, the board, the boosters and the students will come up with something we all will be happy with.

Superintendent Charles Koren said that the day of classes lost to bad weather on Feb. 18 will be made up April 17.

Koren said the district called off school four days during winter and had four snow makeup days built into the calendar, so Homer-Center would not need to lengthen school days or hold classes on Saturdays to make up lost time.

Those possibilities are being proposed in the State Legislature as alternatives to extending the school year in June to recover snow days.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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