The FHS Band Program has a rich and long tradition of excellence as Florida's oldest High School Band, tracing it's history back to Historic Ocala High School (the name was changed in 1969 to Forest High School). Founded in 1922 by Mrs. Browne' Greaton Cole, she has the distinction of being both the first School Band Director in the state of Florida and the first female director, earning her the title "Mother of School Bands". In 1928, the Ocala High School Band participated in the first State Band Competition held in Lakeland, Florida, taking first place at the competition. the next year it was held in Ocala with 10 bands attending (doubling the number of bands from the previous year) taking second place at this competition. In 1933, the Band was invited to perform at the Gasparilla Parade (now a part of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival), the first time a band had ever been invited to participate. The Band returned home with the First Prize Trophy. In 1936, The Florida Bandmasters Association was formed with Mrs. Cole as a charter member. The band participated with Mrs. Cole at all FBA State events (except for 2 years during the WWII) through her retirement in 1944. Since then, the Forest High/Ocala High School Band has maintained a High Standard of Excellence laid out by our first Director. The auditorium at the "Old" Ocala/Forest High School (now Marion Technical Institute) is named in honor of Mrs. Cole. In 2016, she was posthumously inducted into the FBA Hall of Fame. The Band, which she started, is currently in it's 99th Season.
The Forest High School Band is currently under the direction of David Jones. The program offers a variety of ensembles including:
The Marching Wildcats have received many Superior Ratings over the years at FBA with Superiors 2011-2018 and recently received Superior and Distinguished Ratings at FMBC regional and State Events in 2012-2018. This Ensemble performs at all Home Varsity Football Games, 2-3 Competitions a year, and several School functions throughout the first semester.
FHS Concert Band
The primary Performance Ensemble of the FHS Band Program. The Concert Band has consistently received Excellent and Superior ratings since 2012. From 2017-2020, the Concert Band received all superior ratings at District Concert MPA.
FHS Viridian Big Band (Jazz Ensemble)
Re-introduced in 2012, the FHS Jazz Ensemble has grown from a small after school group into a premiere, in-demand performance ensemble that is currently by Audition Only. The Jazz Band performs at several community and school functions each year and recent received Straight Superiors at District MPA. In 2016, they attended State MPA for the first time and received a Superior rating at the Lakeside Jazz Festival in Port Orange. In 2017 they received Superior ratings at State MPA. in 2019, they received Superior Ratings at the Eustis Jazz Festival and All Superior ratings at District MPA in 2020.
The Emerald W.A.V.E. (Wildcat Artistic and Visual Ensemble) is the Colorguard component to our Band Program. They perform as part of the Marching Wildcats during the Fall and have their own competitions during the Second Semester. They have received a Superior rating at District FBA since the guard's inception and have attended FBA State Festival each year. In 2015 they attended their first FFCC Competition and received a Superior rating in Eval Class. in 2016 they entered B Class competitions with FFCC, most recently placing in the top 3 at their last 2 competitions and 5th place at Championships in their first year. in 2017 the received Superior ratings at State. In 2018, they placed in the top 3 at the Belleview Invitational and 2nd at the Fleming Island Invitational and received a Superior rating at State MPA. In 2019, they placed in the top 3 in all competitions and placed 1st at FFCC Championships in B Class.
ThunderCats Percussion Ensemble
the Percussion Ensemble performs at several functions each year. The ensemble has received a Superior rating at District MPA each year they have attended and have received Superior Ratings at State S&E.
CATaclysm Saxophone Ensemble
The CATaclysm Sax Ensemble is an extra curricular ensemble that performs publically several time a year and membership is dependent on skill level. They have received Superior ratings since their inception at both district and state events and have performed for several high profile events such as the Ocala Golden Apple Gala, Light-up Ocala, and Marion Education Foundation's Retirement Celebration as well as many other events around Ocala.
FHS "Faze2" Jazz Combo (currently Inactive due to Covid-19)
This Audition Only group meets as a class after school for a more in-depth study of Jazz in a small group setting. Made up of no more than 10 members, this groups has a greater emphasis on Improvised soloing and advanced jazz literature. Faze2 is a more mobile Jazz ensemble that can more easily travel for community events and performances. In 2018, this group was one of only 27 Jazz Ensembles in the state of Florida to receive straight Superior ratings at State Jazz MPA. In 2019 and 2020, the ensemble focused more on local performances and events. In 2020, they received all Superior Ratings at District MPA.
"QUINT"essential Brass (currently Inactive due to Covid-19)
this Brass ensemble is our newest addition to our small ensembles. It was started three years ago and has achieved a high level of success in a short amount of time, having received Superior Ratings at State each time. in 2019 they received a Superior with Distinction . This ensemble performs during the Holidays and as needed by FHS and the Community.
If you have questions or would like more info regarding our program, please contact the Director, David Jones.
Ocala High/Forest High School
2012-Present - Mr. David Jones
1999-2012 - Ms. Jody Alexander
1998-1999 - Mr. Kurt Knippel
1995-1998- Mr. Shawn Barat
1991-1995 - Ms. Heidi Weaver
1988-1991 - Ms. Elaine Blevins
1986-1988 - Mr. Nick Carbuto
1983-1986 - Mr. Bob Allen
1981-1983 - Mr. David Fritz
1980-1981 - Mr. David Hess
1972-1980 - Mr. C. Doug Scott
1971-1972 - Mr. M. Ward Fielding
1970-1971 - Mr. Gerald Maglio
1965-1970 - Mr. Harry Grant Jr.*
1962-1965 - Mr. John "J.J." Bishop
1944-1962 - Mr. Leland "Pop" Armstrong
1922-1944 - Mrs. Browne' Greaton Cole*+
+FMEA Hall of Fame Laureate
*FBA Hall of Fame Member
Browne' Greaton Cole/ C.A.T.S.P.R.I.D.E Award Recipients
1964- Seton Tomyn
1965- David Norman & Marjorie Zander
1972- Jill K. Snook & Richard Ferris
1973- C. Elaine Finney & John Hader
1974- Sharon Wagner & Jim Peronto
1975- Louise Hamel & David Fritz
1976- Clarence Woodbury & Stuart Saucer
1977- Julie Burrell & Gettise Elliot
1978- Sam Peppard & Kim McKown
1979- Debbie Molina
1980- Chris Collazo & Scotty Boward
1981- Shawn Albrektsen & Pat Hill
2013- Van Williams
2014- Melissa Cowan
2015- Ariel Lilly
2016- Forrest Andre
2017- Haley Menchaca
2018- Anthony Schifkovitz
2019- Enrique Moncada
2020- Hayley Kyle
2021-Jordan Givens & Lexi Soucy
Mr. Jones- Director of Bands
Mr. Jones is in his 14th year of teaching music, during which, he has taught everything from Middle School to High School Band, Guitar, Keyboard, Music Appreciation, Theory, and Chorus. Mr. Jones graduated in 2007 from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Music, Education, and Mass Communications. While at UCF he performed with the Marching Knights, Jammin' Knight Pep Band, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and Jazz Band. His primary instrument is the Saxophone. He is an active performer, having played with several groups such as the Southern Express Jazz Band, Kingdom of the Sun Community Band, Ocala Civic Theater, and the Sax Appeal Saxophone Quartet and most recently performed with recording artists Phil Stacey and Kevin Christian. Mr. Jones is a product of the Marion County Music Programs, having graduated from Vanguard High School's IB Program where he was Drum Major from 2000-2002 for the VHS Marching Knights. His professional affiliations include FBA, FMEA, NAfME, Kappa Kappa Psi. He served as the FBA District 19 Honor Band Coordinator from 2011-2014, FBA District Officer from 2014-2018, currently serving as the FBA District Treasurer, and has been nominated to the FBA Solo and Ensemble Adjudicator's list for Woodwinds. Mr. Jones is a 2019 recipient of the FBA Tom Bishop Award. His two passions are his family and his music. When not engaged in band activities or performing, he can be spotted around Ocala with his wife and two sons. This is his ninth year with FHS.
Ms. Brady- Colorguard Instructor
Ms. Brady has been involved in Colorguard since high school, performing with Belleview High School, USF , Fahrenheit Winterguard, and Sapphire Winterguard. She is a highly sought after instructor, having worked for the past 12 years for various schools and programs such as Buchholz High School, Olympia High School, and Belleview High School as a tech, instructor and choreographer for both rifle and flag. Ms. Brady is a graduate of Belleview High School where she was also a member of the band (mallet percussion) and of the University of South Florida where she performed with the Herd of Thunder. She is currently a teacher at Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary where she was the school's 2012-2013 Teacher of the year. She was an instructor for River City Independent Colorguard in Jacksonville and Paradigm Colorguard. She is currently an adjudicator for the FBA Aux. List. This is her ninth year with the FHS program.
Mr. Marcus Chandler- Percussion Instructor
Mr. Chandler Is a graduate of Forest High School where he served as Percussion Captain. While here, he performed several State level Solo and Ensemble pieces, receiving Superior and Excellent ratings and has performed with Infinity Indoor drumline. He has worked as an instructor and tech for Belleview High School ,Vanguard High School, and Trinity Catholic's percussion groups and is currently attending the College of Central Florida studying Music Education. At CF, he performs as part of the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Band. This is his fourth year on Staff with the FHS Band Program.
Ms. Rachel Hoffman- Colorguard Tech
Ms. Hoffman is a graduate of Belleview High School where she marched Diamond Winter Guard. She has marched with Paradigm Winter Guard and Tampa Independant and has worked with Ms. Brady for several years. She is attending the College of Central Florida. This is her fourth year working full time with the FHS Band Program.
Mr. Van Williams- Visual and WW Music Tech
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Forest High School and was the 2012-2013 FHS Band Captain and Clarinet Section Leader. While a member of the FHS Band, he participated in numerous honor bands and Solo and Ensemble Events. He was the 2013 recipient of the C.A.T.S. Pride Award. Mr. Williams is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Degree in Latin Studies Education with a Minor in Music. While at UF, he was a member of the Marching Gator Band where he was the Clarinet Section leader for two years. He also has additional marching experience playing mellophone in the Heatwave Drum and Bugle Corp. He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Music Fraternity. Mr. Williams recently apprenticed with and is currently employed as an instrument repairman with Hoggtowne Music in Gainesville, Fl. This is his third year on staff with the FHS Band Program.