By TRENT BRAUN, October 2018
When asked what Deer Park is known for best, people’s answers usually resort to the accomplishments of the marching band. After qualifying for state for a consecutive 25 years, of which 9 of those years went on to earn superior ratings, the band has held a significant reputation. So, what is it that makes them so prominent and successful? If any man were the right man to ask, it would most certainly be Mr. Joe Vetter (otherwise known as JV). Being involved in the DP band program for nearly three and a half decades, it’s indisputable that he holds some wisdom about the organization’s functioning and how it’s continued to hold such notability.
At first, Joe’s position was already held by another person, but they quit two weeks before band camp, giving JV the opportunity to come in. For most of his career, Vetter worked with Mr. Matre (a man who used to be his teacher and he played piano for) until Mr. Suddendorf took over in 2013. JV said he and Matre made a great team for 26 years and learned much from each other. He described Matre as “more scientific” and good at recruiting new members. Many of the ideas that were originated by Matre were enhanced by Suds’s efforts, the most renowned advancements being the Jazz program and the continuation of the Graduation Band. Many schools don’t play live music for grad band anymore, but DP still does. “I always took that very seriously,” Vetter says, “It creates a genuinely good reputation for the community and the band.”
Vetter’s involvement in the band program for so many years has had a profound impact on the community and several of its individuals. He’s watched seniors graduate and freshmen become seniors for the past 33 years, some even being the children or close relatives of previous students that were once involved in the same program. He shared stories of his most memorable band camp senior pranks and expressed how it feels to see former students become successful world contributors. Joe Wesche graduated from Deer Park in 1998 and is one of four professional musicians that graduated from that class. He now writes drills and music and is the main provider for the DP band shows. Other former students have also become teachers at Deer Park and/or are involved in school programs, such as Sarah Godwin, Carolynn Hubbard (formerly Sullivan), Amy Mueller, Alan Keller, and many others.
Overall, it’s evident that the people involved and the outstanding community support is what is able to make the band program here at Deer Park so superb. It’s the act of working together as a band and a community towards a common goal of excellence that makes us unique and all the more influential. “I think most band teachers would say, ‘pay it forward, keep it going’,” JV said, “the whole point is you want people to keep playing music.”
Now a few years away from retirement, JV expressed that he’s excited and scared at the same time. He knows that he’ll always have the opportunity to come back and visit and is looking towards the future with optimism.