Candy Gardner leads a group of students through flag drills Monday.Erica Stufflebean checks CHS band members keep proper form.The Cameron High School Marching Dragons Band takes the field for the first time this in 2019.

Dragons on the March

CHS Band refines ‘Mo-Town’ sound for fall series

The Cameron High School Marching Dragons Band took its first step into a new era under new co-directors Andy Roberts and Clint Kubala Sunday.
The Marching Dragons kicked off their first band camp under Roberts and Kubala, who began working through the basics of this week in anticipation of the band’s first public performance of the year during the Aug. 30 football season opener against Northeast Kansas City.

“It been good and it’s been a long day for sure,” Roberts said. “Jumping in is the way to do things. This is a better way to get started and ready to go. It has been a crazy day, and a long day, but it has also been good.”

Seniors met with incoming freshmen Sunday as a soft opener for the week-long camp. In order to avoid the typically blistering Missouri heat in August, the Marching Dragons put in most of their field work in the morning, then transition to the band room in the afternoon to work on their sheet music. With both co-directors having a strong background in band completions, they stressed tone and posture in the first days of camp. 

“We had a chance for seniors to meet with freshmen [Sunday] just as a reduced-time day,” Kubala said. “We wanted to go through it and get them next to someone who does what they’re going to be doing and be a model for them. It’s nice to see the upperclassmen be that for them and it has been cool to watch.”

Although Roberts and Kubala met the band earlier this summer as part of a barbecue to introduce the new co-director, Monday was their first introduction in a formal setting. Kubala comes to Cameron by way of Oologah, Okla., his home town. He served as assistant band director at Oologah High School, splitting time between instructing the Oologah Middle School band and the OHS jazz band. Cameron will be Roberts first job as a co-director, having served as a student teacher in 2018-2020. Roberts and Kubala replace retired co-director Ann Goodwin-Clark and Blake Duren, who accepted a position with the Excelsior Springs School District earlier this summer.

“We don’t want to change a lot going into this,” Roberts said. “The two directors who have now left, Mrs. Clark and Mr. Duren, are two really respected and well-liked teacher, who had a really good system figured out. We’ve been trying to learn their system and figure out how we fit in and to figure out some of the cogs that are already moving into place. We’re also trying out some new thing to see what we like, what we don’t like and what the students like and don’t like.”

As part of the transition, Roberts and Kubala kept the ‘Mo-Town’ theme of this year’s halftime show, which was one of the final decisions made by Goodwin-Clark and Duren before their departure. With both co-directors and the band going through a steep learning curb, Roberts and Kubala said they made great use of senior and section leaders.

“We had a sit-down talk through with the leadership, just to bounce ideas off of them,” Kubala said. “We saw which ideas they really latched onto and then we weighed what we would like to do and put that in along with it. They’ve been really receptive. They’re a good group of kids.”

Both directors agreed the Marching Dragons made great progress in just a few days of work. Along with training for halftime shows, the band will also focus on upcoming marching competitions with the competitive marching band season just around the corner. Whether on the gridiron or on the streets, Kubala and Roberts believe the Marching Dragons will draw the attention of more than a few spectators this fall.

“It always seems like it goes really quick when you look back on it,” Kubala said. “Right now, we’re kind of in the moment. We’ve got the drill team that’s going to be coming in and coordination with the pom team because they’re in our first movement. The color guard has a feature in the second movement and they’re all going to fall into place eventually. Watching it come together is pretty cool as a director.”

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