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For high school band, black is the new blue

New uniforms give Marion High a new school color

Staff writer

Marion High School band director Chris Barlow presented the board of education with proposed new designs Monday for marching band.

Barlow was going to present the new uniforms at the February meeting, but was unable to do so because he had been ill that day.

It’s a critical purchase for the high school, partially because the predominantly blue uniforms are long out of style, but also because of the price tag.

“They’re the most expensive uniforms we put on kids,” Superintendent Lee Leiker said at the February meeting.

Upon seeing the uniforms Monday night, board members agreed they liked the look, but were curious why their most prominent hue was black.

“Why is there so much black in it when Marion Warriors aren’t black?” asked Jan Helmer.

The two-piece uniforms feature entirely black pants. The top piece is tuxedo style and multicolored, with red covering slightly more than half the torso, then a white stripe and a blue stripe, and black on the left shoulder and arm. The Warriors logo adorns the right breast over the red fabric, and the word “Warriors” is spelled out on a cape that hangs over the left shoulder.

The hats are of a different style as well — namely, they are not as tall as the previous hats designed by former director Mike Connell. They are predominantly black, with stripes and a white plume.

The uniforms were designed by Barlow using the Fruhauf Company, which designed the current uniforms in 1989.

Barlow said simply that the black is in style now, and will be for years to come. The statement was met with skepticism and suggestions of different colors.

“I’m partial to more of the blue and red myself,” Board President Chris Sprowls said. “Of course, maybe I’m just old school.”

Barlow began his presentation by reeling off problems with the old uniforms. He said they were remarkable for their longevity, but are no longer in style.

He showed fraying on various parts of the uniforms, most of which was minor. The heels of the pants were significantly damaged, however, from being worn by students that can’t fit the uniforms.

“Kids don’t feel like they’re looking their best because the uniforms don’t fit properly,” he said.

Barlow reported that some students didn’t like the marching aspect of high school band because of the uniforms, and suggested the band’s numbers have possibly suffered because of it.

“I’m not saying this is the sole reason behind some kids quitting,” Barlow said, “but I have had kids tell me, ‘they didn’t want to wear the uniform.’”

Barlow reported one instance last year of a student who said she got a rash from wearing the uniform for a performance last summer.

Leiker suggested that in order to ensure new uniforms would be in for the start of next school year, getting the students sized now would be worthwhile.

The board encouraged Barlow to tinker with design and color combinations, but also to nail down a price.

Sprowls remembered previously shopping for band uniforms, and the cost ranging around $75,000.

Barlow said he couldn’t get a straight answer from the Fruhauf Company regarding a price, partially because he didn’t know how many they’d order.

“Press them for a firm number, not ball park,” Sprowls said. “I don’t like ball park.”

Last modified March 11, 2015

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