Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of Ithaca Week, a weekly magazine produced by the students of the Advanced Multimedia Journalism class at the Roy H. Park School of Communications, Ithaca College.

Dryden, N.Y. — The bell rings at precisely 11:25 a.m. Students rush down the hall and drop their brightly colored backpacks along the wall outside of the classroom. They won’t need textbooks or calculators for this particular subject.

Instead, they retrieve instrument cases from their lockers that seem, in some instances, larger than the students carrying them and file into the band room.

Although Dryden High School is still reeling from a $933,074 deficit in its budget from the 2012-2013 year, band teacher Robert Oldroyd is breathing new life into the music department.

After just five weeks of entering the school district, Oldroyd plans to change the music curriculum to create a marching band that will represent the school district.

“Typically, a high school program has a marching band,” Oldroyd said, “My idea for Dryden is to create a parade band that will be involved in the Ithaca community providing a civic duty by playing at parades, Memorial Day services and football games. We want to play great music and be an integral part of the community.”

Groton High School lost its marching band due to budget cuts, said Liz Eleck, a music teacher who has taught in the Groton Central School District for the past 28 years.

“We don’t have a marching band anymore. We were asked to make a ten percent cut to the marching band staff and it wasn’t possible for us to continue with that much of a cut,” Eleck said.

While the lack of funding has kept Oldroyd from implementing a few of his new ideas for the department so far, such as an update to the music wing itself, he said that he was optimistic that insufficient funding would not be an insurmountable obstacle for the creation of the marching band.

The creation of a marching band at Dryden High School will be central for the music department’s civic duty to its neighborhood, Oldroyd said.

“The community does a lot for music programs, and it’s our way of giving back by having a high performing marching band that is active in the community,” Oldroyd said.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.