Baker High School Marching Band and “Plan Bee” Pep Band
Modeled on college programs, Baker High School’s “Plan Bee” Pep Band is the only high school pep band in Central New York. In 2009, Casey Vanderstouw launched Plan Bee as an experiment. Vanderstouw was new to Baker, but as a seasoned band director he had a well-founded hunch that a pep band program would be a positive post-season addition to the marching band’s regular schedule. Plan Bee has indeed been a tremendous success— by practicing in the offseason, participating marching band members strengthen technique as well as friendships. The program’s relaxed atmosphere and creative musical arrangements draw musicians from 7th to 12th grades, and Plan Bee now boasts a roster of 130 dedicated members.
Vanderstouw’s experiment has paid off. Plan Bee is regularly invited to play at Baldwinsville community events, and is a staple in Paper Mill Island’s Summer Concert Series. But they also get out of town every once in a while, playing at high-profile venues from Hard Rock Café in Baltimore, Maryland to Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. In 2012, Baker’s marching band won the New York State Field Band Championships, and in April 2013, they were selected to represent the State of New York in the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Casey Vanderstouw, Baker High School’s Band Director
A percussionist by training, Casey received a Music Education degree from Syracuse University. After graduating in 2006, Casey took a teaching position at a high school in southwest New York State, where he helped to build a champion marching band program. While visiting family in the Baldwinsville area, Casey came across a newspaper advertisement calling for a music teacher. Baker High School needed a Band Director who would be interested in leading the extracurricular marching band program. The position and community felt right, so Casey took the job.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade judges regularly receive hundreds of band applications. Only 9 bands are selected, two of which are from the college level. Casey submitted Baker’s portfolio four years in a row. On his third try, he received a stock rejection letter overlaid with a sticky note urging him to reapply. While en route to a post-Dome Show victory rehearsal, Casey received the phone call he’d been waiting for. The Marching Band would be going to New York City in 2014. Now they are counting down, and practicing to make their performance perfect. The band has even painted the school driveway so that they can rehearse in the parade route’s dimensions. Given that this is an opportunity of a lifetime, Casey is planning to make it a fun one for the kids. What will the band play? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Julianna Mangano, Baker High School Marching Band Member
Julianna was born in Syracuse, and has lived in Baldwinsville for 17 years. She attended Van Buren Elementary, Ray Middle School, Durgee Junior High, and has just completed her senior year at Baker High School. In elementary school, Julianna participated in Girl Scouts and played Little League softball. In her junior year of high school, her cousin, a trumpeter in the Baker marching band, suggested that Julianna participate as an extra in the upcoming field show, “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas.” Julianna the band were thrilled to win the State championships that year. Julianna says that her favorite thing about Baker High School is the teachers, who take the time get to know and support their students. Julianna also appreciates the range of activities that the Village of Baldwinsville offers to young people—from shopping at boutiques like Eye on Decor, to eating a pie at Pizza Man, to getting a tattoo at Timeless Tattoo. She will miss Baldwinsville and Baker High next year, when she begins her college career at Gannon University in Eire, Pennsylvania.