MASON Since childhood, music has played a large role in Darren Jacksons life. He started with piano lessons, recitals and playing in church as a child. He went on to learn the saxophone in fifth grade, playing with both the concert and marching bands and eventually acting as field commander during his senior year at Wahama High School in Mason. From there, Jackson was invited back to assist with band camp while he was on break each summer from college. He studied music education during his undergraduate degree at Kentucky Christian University and went on to receive his masters degree in music education at Florida State University. Now, after 14 years participating and working with Wahama, Jackson will be working as the new band director of Wahama Junior and Senior High as well as the beginning seeder program at New Haven Elementary. Wahama High School Vice Principal Melissa VanMeter said Jackson was a good candidate for the position because of his extensive background with the school and knowledge of the program. Darren went through the band as a student. Kenny Bond [the current principal] was the director at the time, and I assisted some so I think that experience was a big influence on his decision to go on and study music, VanMeter said. Were glad to see an alumnus come back and take the position, and were looking forward to seeing him continue the traditions, Wahama style, and see him make the program bigger and better. Because of his time in the program and working with the students, Jackson said the transition has been a smooth one. Im really excited about this year; the kids are doing great, Jackson said. The kids really came together for our first performance at the fair. We still have work to do, but Im sure theyre going to do an excellent job. Wahama Marching Band follows the military marching style of six steps to five yards (6 to 5), which was inspired by the marching style of Texas A&M University and implemented by a former band director, which Jackson said he plans to continue. Our marching style is so unique and particular to the school, I feel that its essential to have an alumnus come back to the program, and because I am an alumnus, I see the value in this rich tradition, Jackson said. Jackson said he wants to focus on the Seeder Program at New Haven Elementary and encourage more students to get involved with the band, inspire them to grow and help them continue their development as they move up. At the high school level, he said the marching band already has a strong support system, but he plans to put more emphasis on concert band in increasing the amount and variety of traditional concert band repertoire as well as exploring the possibility of forming a jazz band. Music and other art programs, he said, allow students to step outside of the traditional classroom and see everything in a new way. Music is never the same thing twice it always changes. I feel that music is necessary for all students regardless of whether or not theyre in band. I think its good to be in choir, to study the history of music or be involved with music in some manner, Jackson said. In Jacksons pride at returning to his alma mater, he said he is looking forward to seeing the marching band perform for a large crowd to their first home game verses Trimble High School on September 2, as well as at the Fourth Annual White Falcon Invitational Marching Band Competition on October 1. Im really excited to work under the leadership of Kenny Bond, my former band director and the acting principal, and Melissa VanMeter, the assistant principal, Jackson said. Im really excited for this opportunity and its going to be a great season, so come out and support the band.