History of the Parkway West Bands
The band program at Parkway West High School has a very proud and distinguished history. The early development of the band program occurred in 1968, before West even accepted its first students. This concept was led by Mr. Robert Waggoner, who would serve as the very first band director. With the help of several drill team captains who were to transfer from Central High, a West drill team was established. The name “Highlanders” was chosen to distinguish West’s drill team from that of Central where a western theme prevailed. The first marching band was outnumbered by the drill team by 50 to 60. It was not until 1976 when the corps style of marching was adopted and the number of musicians in the band grew to a reasonable number. Mr. Waggoner noted several “points of pride” regarding the many innovations by the West band program, including:
*First Parkway band to have a five day per week band course
*First Parkway school to establish a band camp
*First Parkway school to have a jazz band
*First Parkway school (and one of the first in St. Louis County) to utilize the corps marching style that is still the national standard today
Mr. John L. Baker was chosen to lead the band program in 1978. Under his direction, the program rose to national prominence. Mr. Baker demanded excellence in all areas—marching, jazz, and symphonic bands. Parkway West truly had “balanced” band program. In addition to growth in numbers, the bands would grow in quality. This led to numerous performances on that national stage, including the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic twice (1989 and 1991), the National Band Association Convention, and the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference. The marching band would appear at numerous Bands of America events, the Fiesta Bowl, the St. Louis Veiled Prophet (VP) Parade and the Citrus Bowl. Through many of these years, Mr. Baker was assisted by Mr. John Craine.
Following Mr. Baker’s departure from West in 1994, the band program was led by Dave Zamborsky, Dee Dee Emry, Ryan Curtis, and Ben Pyatt.
Throughout the years, West High band students have gone on to become renowned teachers and performers throughout the country.