The band never skips a beat with Dr. Ishbah Cox

Photo credits by Alyssa Young

The instant shock and wave of fear owed over the band this summer as its world soon came to a halt when former band director Marc Zirille decided to move and take a position in Johnstown. Members were worried that the band would change and not be something they all wanted or had experienced in past years.

However, about 10 days after the position was posted, Dr. Ishbah Cox was welcomed with open arms into the “Orange family”. The band members quickly realized because of who Cox was as a

director that they would never “skip a beat”.

Before being a band director at Orange, Cox was one of the assistant directors at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana for 10 years. At Purdue, he only saw the students he taught two or three times a week. He likes the opportunity to see his students every day at the high school level.

“At Purdue, I was responsible for teaching marching band, conducting several concert bands and brass choir, teaching an engineering learning community seminar and directing the volleyball pep band,” Cox said.

The move to Ohio was a family decision; his wife is a Department Chair at The Ohio State University. So together they felt it was a good opportunity for both of them. They are very happy with their decision to move and to be


“I was attracted to the program because of the reputation of the school system, not to mention the reputation of the band and music program overall,” Cox said. “I said to myself if I ever went back to high school I would love for it to be similar to the program we have at Orange. The opportunity was there, the timing was right and it was a divine situation for me.”

The band started practicing in late June. Some parts of the band such as drum line and color guard started in late May. Cox didn’t start his official practices until July 2. He tried not to make huge changes to the band this year. Because the band is growing in size, the only major change was where the band camp was located.

The band has always been described as “one big happy family”. Due to the large freshman class, the “family” has gotten a lot bigger. It gives students a friend group and people they can lean on when they need to.

“Band has changed my high school experience by giving me a group to be with, people I can call friends. It gives me something to do outside of school. Overall, it has made my experience a lot better,” sousaphone and tuba player, senior Mohammad Williams said.

Friday nights and the Peach Bowl are two things the band are excited and ready for this year. Friday night half time shows are the time for the students in the band to show the crowd what they have been working towards all summer. It has had so much success in previous years as well as this year that it has been asked to perform at the Peach Bowl.

“On Friday nights there is a lot of excitement before getting to perform and the practice before. During practices, we are focused on fixing whatever we need to, to get ready for our next show,” member of the color guard, junior Rachel Galloway.

“I’m most excited for the Georgia Peach Bowl, to travel and be there for a few days. It will be exciting. Most of the band members are pumped to go out and put on a show during half time and to keep the spirit going during the game. During practice we ‘keep our head in the game’ and set ourselves up for the show that week,” Williams said.

Williams said to have a better band there should be a strict director. Cox is stricter than Zirille, but it’s a good thing.

“Dr. Cox is pretty cool; he’s definitely stricter than Mr. Z was, but we need it as a band to make us better,” Williams said.

Cox loves the support from the community in general. It truly gives the band the confidence and allows it to enjoy so much of what it loves to do.

“It’s been an honor to connect with the students, all my band students, including marching, concert and jazz. It’s been great to get the support from the community over all, the administration, faculty and staff and the volunteering help from parents. It’s been awesome,” Cox said.

Cox recognizes that all the students at Orange take pride in their academics and their future. He describes the atmosphere of our school as a “great community-based, family-like place to be”.

“After visiting the school and meeting the administration first, they all continue to talk about the band program, how special it is and how much the community embraces the band. I walk into the school building and I see these banners of National Merit. Not only is there a care about what’s going on beyond the band activities, there is also obviously some pride and commitment to academic rigor and academic success,” Cox said.

To the seniors, he wants them to remember what their parents, teachers and community members have taught them in past years. He wants them to seize the opportunity for them to learn and expose them to new things.

“Work hard, don’t settle, dream big, don’t doubt yourself, understand mistakes will happen; it’s the perseverance part that is the most important. If we fail, we fail and then we get back up and keep going,” Cox said.


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