Young Jeeps following ‘Pathways’ to success

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Northeast Dubois High School senior drum major Ayane Mundy conducts marching band practice at the school in Dubois on Wednesday. Ayane says she "misses being on the field but that having a leadership role makes up for it."


DUBOIS — The program was riding high, but its leaders were anxious.

New Drum Major Ayane Mundy trembled as she stood on the podium at the band’s first contest. Trumpet soloist Dillon Cummins admitted that tackling his 30-second lead performance was at first nerve-wracking.

Before the season began, some wondered if the Northeast Dubois Marching Jeeps — who have qualified for the Indiana State School Music Association Scholastic Finals in each of the past three years — had what it takes to remain competitive.

That question didn’t allude David Fox, who is Northeast Dubois’ beloved band director and has been widely credited with the group’s historic turnaround.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it,” he said. Parents would ask him if he was worried, and he’d tell them that the band was going to be great.

“And inside, I’m screaming, ‘Alert! Alert!’” Fox remembered with a laugh.

That feeling quickly faded. Because while the departure of 10 seniors and a handful of other veterans has certainly had an impact, the band is still aiming high. The Jeeps have coalesced under a new identity.

Northeast Dubois seventh-grader Leah Klawitter, left, senior Ayane Mundy, and sophomore Jade Mundy do a handshake during marching band practice on Wednesday in Dubois.

They know that hard work leads to good results. The first day of band camp, Fox told them that Northeast Dubois has a tradition that doesn’t graduate.

“Let’s just do our thing,” he said, recalling his message to the kids. “And they just latched on to it and did it. They just have done what we needed to do and kept positive. There has been nothing negative about the year.”

Northeast Dubois will perform at 11:39 a.m. in the ISSMA Scholastic Class B Prelims at Jasper’s Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium on Saturday. If they earn a gold rating, the band will advance to the class finals at Lawrence Central High School on Saturday, Oct. 26.

If they earn anything less than gold on Saturday, their season will end.

Despite having a younger band, Fox praised its members for the even-keeled, consistent work ethic they’ve maintained throughout the season. Their routine is titled “Pathways,” and centers on a theme that makes use of a roundabout tarp, street signs and other roadway-related imagery.

Northeast Dubois High School freshman Carter Bieker plays the trumpet during marching band practice at the school in Dubois on Wednesday. The Jeeps' band routine is called “Pathways” and focuses on roads.

A big chunk of the Marching Jeeps’ success can be attributed to Ayane, who has already earned distinctions for being the best drum major in the band’s class at numerous competitions this season. She has played an integral role in ushering in a new generation of Marching Jeeps.

“To see them come in and have basically no idea what to do, and to perform something that great, it’s amazing,” said Ayane, who is a senior. “I’m glad to be part of that.”

Returning to the state finals for a fourth consecutive season was among her goals as the group’s student leader. But she also just wanted to see the performers grow as individuals, and she can see that happening in many of them.

Fox agreed that going back to the finals “would be awesome.” But he never sets that goal at the beginning of the year.

He never will. He’d rather focus on something tangible, like improving mechanics and mentalities.

“My goal was to just do what Northeast Dubois does,” Fox said. “And have a creative show, with the kids marching and playing great. Getting to perform at a higher level.”

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