Newly appointed Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS) Marching Band Director Jermaine Reynolds and his Ocean of Sound Band, decked out in new blue and grey uniforms, made their much-anticipated home opener debut Friday, Sept. 9 at a football game against Oakleaf.
The new uniforms were made possible by a donation from Ponte Vedra Beach residents Duke and Sherry Horner, who were honored and thanked during halftime for their role in helping the band acquire new gear.
Senior Trombonist Abby Horner, The Horners' granddaughter, has watched the band evolve over the last three years.
“When I was a freshman at PVHS, there were only 27 band members marching and we had been through a few directors in a short period of time,” she said. “I thought about quitting, but realized I loved the band. I did not want to give up on the chance of helping to create the best band possible.
“Then, sophomore year, Mr. [Jakob] Wisdom came along and he got the kids excited about the band,” Horner recalled. “He wrote a new fight song for our school and from there, the band started picking up a lot of steam. The kids could see how fun it was to have a real band.”
A need for unity
At one of the Ocean of Sound’s competitions in 2015, Abby’s grandparents came to support their granddaughter and the PVHS band. Since its inception, the musicians wore coordinated band themed t-shirts, black or dark blue pants and black sneakers. The PVHS entry was the only band competing without formal uniforms.
Sherry Horner recalled feeling distressed once she realized the PVHS band didn’t have a “unified” look.
“It just broke my heart that our kids were working so hard to make the band a success, but did not have, so to speak, a tux for the prom or a dress to wear to the ball,” she said.
“Duke and I sat there during that competition and thought about how we could help make uniforms a reality for the following year, less than 10 months away.”
Meeting the challenge
The couple initially offered a $20,000 gift to the band for uniforms, but later found that the price – $53,000 – greatly exceeded the band’s budget, even including the donation. The two then offered to match any other monies the band could raise dollar for dollar.
Band members and their families set off raising money through the Ducky Derby, the Winter Spectacular, by selling Fan Flip Flops and soliciting other donations. In all, they raised $25,000 – twice as much as they’d ever raised before.
The Horners promptly matched the $25,000 the band raised, bringing their family’s total gift to $45,000.
Touched by the efforts of the band and their families, the couple realized the commitment the community had to the kids of the band.
“One of the wonderful things Duke and I have been able to witness is the evolution of Ponte Vedra Beach,” Sherry Horner said. “We’ve been here 60 years and have watched it grow from a two-lane road with only one K-8 school, to a four-lane road with two elementary schools, a middle school and its very own high school. And to see our own children and grandchildren thriving here has made it even more fulfilling.
“We thought this would be a wonderful way to celebrate our love for the community, to give back to a town and school that has given us so much.”
The band’s new ensemble features grey bibber pants, a light blue jacket with a white sash, a black, one-shoulder cape and a hat accented by a white feather plume. In addition, all members have matching black shoes. Most instrument sections wear white gloves, and the color guard has complementary gray uniforms with black lines. Next, the band intends to purchase garment bags to keep the new threads fresh.
The state competition will be held in Tampa in November – and nearly 100 musicians and color guard members will be marching there in style.
“The uniforms have changed the conversation about PVHS’s band,” Reynolds said. “Our new music program is called Identity, which is a hat tip toward the new look. And we are heading to state’s. It does not get any better for a school band.”