Under the direction of band director Robert Darragh, the Windermere High marching band has amassed many accolades in three years at the school. Wind Symphony and Jazz 1 has never received less than Superior rating. The marching band has competed in Bands of America Orlando and was a finalist band this past year and was fourth in State Marching Band Contest in 5A. The marching band has won the Grand Champion of the University Classic the last two years.
The band traveled to Indianapolis Indiana for Bands of America Grand Nationals Competition for the first time, received a superior rating and placing 32nd out of 100 bands. The band has taken up position quickly within the state and national level competitions due to high standards and dedication by every band member.
What brought you to your school?
I have lived in Florida off and on since I was 1 year old. I originally lived in Pensacola. In third grade we moved to Texas, where I spend the rest of my time in school, and in the early ’90s I moved back to Florida again. I eventually moved away from Florida to be in the military and ended up stationed back at Eglin AFB then left yet again to go to grad school. My wife, Lynsey, is originally from Florida, and when I heard about a new school opening in this part of the state I applied and was hired. I decided it was time to hopefully make the move permanent and get back to Florida for a final time.
What do you love most about your school?
As a new school, I love the fact that we are establishing our identity as we go and who we want to be is completely on both the teachers and students. (Principal Doug) Guthrie cares about the students and teachers and is invested in all the programs and their success and has been instrumental in establishing the culture and traditions of Windermere High School. Over the last three years, I have seen the students transform the school into what it will be for many generations to come.
I love the dedication of the students to the band program, as well as the band parents who put so much time and money into something that takes such discipline and dedication to master. Not everyone can pick up an instrument, dedicate all the time we do to perfecting things and go out and march a show or play a concert. Thousands of rehearsal hours go into perfecting something on a high level to perform, and it takes 120% of effort to make all the moving parts work.
What is your motivation?
My high school in Texas had a very good band program, and I remember all the rewards of working hard, competing and being the best we could be and how hard my band director pushed us to be awesome, and I want to give these students the same opportunities of excellence and the various performance experiences I was afforded as a young adult.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing the students enjoy what they are doing, take ownership of their program, be the best that we can possibly be and ultimately succeed!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
There is not too much spare time when with a band our size. There are always things to keep you busy on the weekends, grading playing tests, planning for drill learning or rehearsals. I am also in the National Guard, so some of my time is spent performing with the 13th Army Band in Miami.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
It was my band director. He was very strict but never let me fail and always held me accountable and pushed me to come out of my box and to work for excellence.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I wanted to be a band director because I loved doing band in high school, a police officer because I had some friends who were cops, and in the Military, just because military history, big battles, and heroes always intrigued me.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I liked Curious George when I was growing up. My dad used to tell me I got into trouble because I was being Curious George too much.
What are your hobbies?
The obvious one is playing my instrument. I used to teach martial arts and compete as a third-degree blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing. I still practice martial arts actively, as well as do weight training. I also scuba dive and play my fair share of computer games.
If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
I would like to be able to fly. I am always in a hurry, I walk very fast typically, and I think it would be a great time management tool to be able to quickly fly places. I also grew up watching “Superman,” so there is also that. Maybe some super strength to go with it would be great!
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
I have always enjoyed Mozart; it was always very soothing and brought my center of focus back. I grew up in the ’80s and still enjoy much of the music from back then. I liked Van Halen and Def Leppard when I was growing up. That was my driving music or when I wanted to have energy and get moving doing something.
How long at your school and with OCPS?
I opened Windermere High School as the first band director in 2017 and have been with OCPS since.