Dowagiac band room gets fresh look

Published 9:48 am Friday, August 16, 2013

Band dad Dave Ironside sprays paint Thursday afternoon.

Band dad Dave Ironside sprays paint Thursday afternoon.

Dowagiac Union High School’s bandroom is in the midst of a makeover.

Before, it was a patchwork of pastel colors that bereft of cabinets looked like a flag from some obscure foreign country, plus a pencil fused to an exposed wall.

With Band Boosters parents painting this week while Director C.J. Brooks travels in Germany, it’s tempting to broadcast that a bright Chieftain orange abode awaits, since he’s not fond of that school color.

Principal Pieter Hoekstra, Assistant Principal Kelly Millin and Maintenance Supervisor Dave Daniels have dropped by to oversee the progress by 14 volunteers, including President Robin Wilson, a 1980 Union High School graduate who has worked at Honor Credit Union for 28 years.

Thursday afternoon she was joined by her senior daughter, Kendra; another French horn player, sophomore Katie Murphy; band dad David Ironside; and Nick Bogen, volunteer extraordinaire.

“I’m a ‘band aid,’ ” Bogen said.

There were enough trophies lining cabinet tops to warrant another case like the one in the hall outside the bandroom.

“We started Monday,” though actual painting commenced Wednesday. “We did a whole lot of cleaning and purging over band camp” to square away uniform and equipment closets, Wilson said.

Six practice rooms are arrayed along the back of the room, but they will not be painted since some have been custom decorated by alumni.

Once devoted to private lessons, they store gear for color guard, percussion and spare instruments, plus one has been equipped with a microwave, sink and small fridge.

Band Boosters are not messing with the acoustical tile on the scalloped ceiling which at the paneled end gives the appearance of a bowling alley.

“On the orange wall, when we moved cabinets there was a different orange behind,” said Wilson, who intends to wrap up the project to leave Tuesday on her own vacation. “They always painted around everything.”

Most musicians will see the finished product Aug. 29.

Painted white, with furnishings moved out of the way, the band room seems much larger and brighter.

Ironside never played in band, though his wife, Debra (Tyrakowski) did. In fact, their seventh grade daughter plays mom’s flute. Debra graduated in 1991, having also been a cheerleader for the state championship football team.

“The school bought us eight cans of paint,” Wilson said. “We brought in the sprayer and our own rollers.”

Band Boosters invested about $250 in the makeover, but is also shelling out $2,500 for a new instrument rack.

Closets in the corridor to the choir room are all freshly organized for uniforms, hats and raincoats.

Wilson is also lobbying for band wall space in the cafeteria with athletic and academic walls of fame to hang its framed class photos for public viewing.

“So far, so good,” Wilson said.