Uniform uniformity strikes sweet note for Indian River, Sussex Central marching bands

DAGSBORO – Uniform uniformity for high school band uniforms has surfaced in the Indian River School District.

Moneywise and performance wise, the idea is striking a sweet note as the board of education is now considering a unified pitch from Ben Ables and Nathan Mohler, respective band directors at Sussex Central High School and Indian River High School.

Their proposal, received by IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele via email Monday morning, is that new uniforms purchased for both bands feature a similar district design in appropriate school colors.

Indian River School District’s board of education is considering a proposal for new high school band uniforms for Sussex Central and Indian River that would feature a similar district design pattern in appropriate school colors.

The game plan: showcase district unity in local parades as a combined marching unit.

“I think it’s a neat thing, to combine the bands in local parades and a 150-student marching band,” said Mr. Steele.

Indian River High School band uniform funding was on the agenda for the March 26 meeting. Following the email from Mr. Mohler, the uniform issue was tabled until the April board meeting.

Mr. Steele told the board that Mr. Mohler had a conversation with Mr. Ables over the weekend and they kind of came up “with an idea and a plan that could help us I think money-wise but at the same time promote district unity.”

Their discussion on unified participation in several parades a year as a combined unit precipitated district band uniform discussion.

“Sussex Central’s would be the same design, with blue and gold, where Indian River’s would be the same design in green and gold,” said Mr. Steele. “They felt that by ordering more uniforms in the same pattern it would save a lot of money for the district.”

New band uniforms for Indian River High was a hot topic at the Feb. 26 IRSD school board meeting.

Following pleas from Mr. Mohler, IRHS Band Boosters president Lisa Bird and band member Kathleen Carter, the board’s 5-5 stalemate blocked the request for new band uniforms that would have featured an abundance of black. That color scheme some board members said strayed too far from traditional green and gold school colors.

Black was to provide an artistic performance element for the band’s field show with an initial “blackout” effect followed by a turnaround and color change.

At its Sept. 25 meeting, the IRSD board approved $72,000 for new IRHS band uniforms due next school on a 10-year replacement cycle. Sussex Central is scheduled to receive new band uniforms the following year.

“So, if it’s not until into next year for Indian River’s, what would happen is they would use existing uniforms one more year, if that is the case. And that money would roll over and we would be able to get both uniforms the next year,” said Mr. Steele. “They really think that it will save money by doing it that way: one design; different colors. So that may end up being the better deal for the district overall.”

James Fritz, among the five board members who opposed Mr. Mohler’s request at the February meeting, applauded this new proposal.

“I know he (Mr. Mohler) caught a lot of heat at the other meeting regarding uniforms, and I don’t know what we’ll end up deciding,” said Mr. Fritz. “But I do want commend him and Mr. Ables on this. I think this is the kind of outside-the-box thinking that saves the district money because of the design, just the difference in colors, and the unity between the two high schools and the entire district. So, I think it is a great idea the two of them came up with. I’ll shoot an email myself, but I think he and Mr. Ables should both be commended for that.”

“Anytime you’ve got anything that is going to promote district harmony I think we could look at it,” said Mr. Steele. “I think it is an impressive thing, if you put 150 kids marching. And the fact that they looked outside the box a little bit and saw we could get one design for both high schools, the only difference will be the school colors.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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