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 100th 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 with Superiors rating at FBA since 2011 and have received Superior and Distinguished Ratings at FMBC regional and State Events in 2012-2021 in various categories. 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 2017-2022, 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. The Ensemble recieved Superior ratings 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2022.
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, placing in the top 3 at their last 2 competitions and 5th place at Championships in their first year. The following year, they 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. In 2022, The Emerald WAVE placed 1st at every competition as well as 1st in Regional A Class at FFCC State Championships.
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. This ensemble's focus is to broaden the scope of musicianship and understanding of our percussion student's role in music beyond the typical drumline and the often limited scope of percussion in the concert band.
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
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.
This Brass ensemble is our newest addition to our small ensembles. It was started four 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. After a hiatus due to the covid pandemic, this ensemble returned for the 2021 and 2022 school years for Solo and Ensemble and limited performances.
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 15th 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 eleventh 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 13 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 eleventh 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 attended the College of Central Florida studying Music Education. At CF, he performed as part of the Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Jazz Band. He is currently attending the University of Florida, majoring in Music Education. This is his sixth 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 Independent and has worked with Ms. Brady for several years in developing award winning colorguard and specializes in dance, body movement, and weapons. She attended the College of Central Florida. This is her sixth year working full time with the FHS Band Program.
Mr. Van Williams- Visual and WW 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 is the 2013 recipient of the CATS PRIDE Award. After graduation, he attended the University of Florida where he recieved his Bachelor's degree in Classical Studies. He participated with both the UF Gator Band as well as the concert band while at UF and worked as an instrument repair technician for Hoggtowne Music. He is currently an active performer, playing clarinet with the Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band as well as the Gainesville Clarinet Choir. He is currently employed at Forest High School teaching both English and Latin classes and is in charge of our clarinet choir. this is his 6th year on staff with the FHS Band.
Mr. Jimmy Sexton- Percussion and Visual Tech
Mr. Sexton is a graduate of Avon Park High School where he was captain and section leader of the drumline. He holds an AA in Music Education from the College of Central Florida and attended the University of Florida for his Bachelor's degree in Music Education, completing his internship with Mr. Jones at Forest.While attending UF, Mr. Sexton was a part of the University of Florida Gator Band, percussion ensemble and studio, and served as a percussionist for the school's various ensembles. He is an active performer, having worked with several local churches and groups, and is currently active with the Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band. He has taught percussion at several local schools including Forest HS, Vanguard HS, Fort King Middle School, and has taught lessons in the area for the past 8 years. He is also a former band parent, his eldest daughter having recently graduated from FHS. Mr. Sexton returns to working with our band program after taking a break to focus on his education and his family. This is his fourth year as a staff member with the FHS Band Program.