ANDERSON, Ind. —
Anderson High School band director Doug Fletcher knew this summer would be different than any other.
He knew that merging two rival bands in the wake of a controversial school consolidation would be difficult.
Though he is the winningest band director in the state, Fletcher was facing a challenge unlike his previous state competitions.
The Anderson Marching Indians were no more. Instead, students donned kilts and call themselves the Marching Highlanders, even though they attended Anderson High School.
It was enough to prompt a handful of students to quit the band.
But those who stayed got a lesson from Fletcher in the very music they played together.
Choosing to bring back a 2005 show based on integrity, Fletcher hoped to teach the students a lesson.
The show was based on the six pillars of character, and included references to honesty and fairness.
“I felt we had more to teach this summer than just a marching band show,” he said.
Hoping to ease the tensions between the rival schools, Fletcher incorporated all three high schools in Anderson Community Schools history into the performance.
The three drum majors of the band were fitted with outfits from Anderson, Highland and Madison Heights high schools, respectively.
Marching in step to the same tune on band day, the Marching Highlanders took home the state championship. It was the 14th state fair band day title for Anderson schools — Anderson High, Highland and Madison Heights — combined, and the fourth in the past six years.
“I thought it would have been an issue between Anderson High School and Highland High School, but we’re working together really well,” drum major Meagan Wykoff said as the teams merged.
Dtonio Ivey, 16, wore a kilt for the first time when the bands merged, and said the kilt, and all tensions, fell away as the band members merged.
Fletcher was excited by the state fair performance, but not surprised. “I knew they were capable.”
Contact Brandi Watters: 640-4847, firstname.lastname@example.org