Lodi’s Salem School District was formed in May 1859, before the City of Lodi had come into existence. By the time developers had platted the city, Salem School was ready for its third schoolhouse, a substantial two-story building at the corner of School and Pine streets (1872). By 1907, when the District’s name was officially changed to “Lodi School District” three schools formed the Salem District. During its later years, the old Salem School housed seventh and eighth graders only, and by 1938 the building was abandoned.
In 1910, Miss Flora Barron was listed as a music teacher for the school district.
In 1911, Agnes Wright was designated as supervisor of drawing and music and taught both elementary and high school music. When the enrollment of students warranted its addition, instrumental music, too, was offered.
A mass meeting was held on May 18, 1911, for the purpose of discussing the question of a Lodi Union High School for the northern part of the county. It was proposed to bond these districts for $150,000, the bond election to take place on December 14, 1911. On the morning of the election, there was a parade of over 1000 school children, carrying flags and banners. The trustees selected as the high school site the twelve-acre tract of Thomas Hutchings just west of the limits of Lodi. In the middle of the 1913-14 school year, Lodi Union High School moved out of the Salem High School building into the Hutchins street site.
The first musical organization at Lodi Union High School was a seven-piece orchestra founded in 1914, under the supervision of Agnes Wright. During the ensuing years, band and orchestras appeared and disappeared.
In 1920, Miss Madge Fullbrook was hired to teach orchestra. On April 29, 1923, during the dedication ceremony for the Garfield School, the Lodi Union High school orchestra played, directed by Miss Fullbrook who left at the end of that school year.
In 1924, Mr. Reverda L. Cross came to Lodi High School and reorganized the band and orchestra program. Since that time, Lodi High School has never been without a band. A plaque from 1927 remains in the Lodi High School Band room to remind us of our humble beginnings.
In 1928, Mr. Sidney Halsey came to Lodi and began a tenure that lasted 34 years. During the days of Sid Halsey, the Lodi High Band was known for its outstanding performances, and by the early ’30s proper marching uniforms were purchased. In 1934, the Stockton Record reported that “no other department has given more to the community than the band.” The Lodi High School Band also won 2nd place in the Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta Parade on June 1, 1937, for the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge! It was also the year the band had its first official Drum Major and majorettes. Rumor also has it that the Lodi High School Band marched for the opening of Disneyland in 1955. Sid oversaw the introduction of new uniforms purchased in 1959, styled after the British Coldstream Guard, for which the band continued its tradition of excellence with.
In 1951, the band and orchestra had grown large enough that Mr. Halsey was able to hire an Assistant Director, and by 1955 the drummettes (now referred to as color guard), had grown in size requiring new uniforms and shakos. A separate Pep Band was formed in 1956 to play at rallies and sporting events when the Field Band wasn’t playing. By 1962 the band was so large they were able to create an Intermediate Band and a Varsity Band.
In 1963, the baton was passed on to Mr. Halsey’s long time Assistant Director, Donald Sutherland. The Hutchins location became known as East Campus and the now Lodi High School Campus was known as West Campus and the intermediate band became known as the”B” band and played at the JV games. It was also during this time that the Majorettes became known as “Twirlers” and twirled batons and provided other movements to enhance the showmanship of the Marching Band. In 1966, the Lodi High School Varsity Band became known as the “Lodi High School Honor Band”, he left at the end of 1967,
but not before introducing a new tradition of Marching through the town to alert townsfolk of upcoming football games as the Band marched towards the Grape Bowl.
In 1966, Dick Johnston became the Intermediate “B” Band Director on West Campus, also known as the Rooters Band. In 1967, he became Director of the Lodi High School Honor Band, located at the Hutchins Street campus, before moving on to teach band at the University of Colorado. Meanwhile, in 1967, Harald Brewer took over the direction of the Intermediate Band on the West Campus.
In 1968, Amos Parker became the new Band Director for the intermediate band on the West Campus (which later became the Lodi High School campus), which served freshman and sophomores of the Lodi High School.
In 1970, the direction of the Honor Band was assumed by Clyde Vaiani, a long-time director of the Lodi Community Band. It was the same year he chose TWO Drum Majors to lead the band. In 1972, Mr. Vaiani moved to the newly established Tokay High School, (temporarily located at the Lodi High West Campus) until the new school site was built in 1977.
In 1972, Robert Gross became the director at Lodi High School, moving the band towards a more contemporary marching style based on the merging drum and bugle corps scene. It was during the reign of Mr. Gross that the official band name, “The Pride of Lodi” was instituted and the present Grape Bowl Classic (then the Lodi-Tokay Band Review) was instituted. During the 1975-76 school year, Mr. Gross purchased the Scottish style uniform for “The Pride of Lodi” based on the original Coldstream Guard uniform and featuring “The Pride of Lodi’s” own Ramsey tartan. During this time “The Pride of Lodi” established themselves as one of the most successful marching bands in California, winning numerous band contests and achieving the first CMEA “Unanimous Superior” concert performance rating in the history of Lodi High School.
In 1974, the old Lodi Union High School site, known as East Campus, burned down in an arson fire in 1974, many thought the beautiful buildings would never be rebuilt. The area known as Hutchins Street Square was eventually rebuilt and is an integral part of community projects and learning in Lodi.
In the 1979-80 school year, Mr. Ronald Raines became Lodi High’s Band Director winning 8 trophies at the Loomis Band Review and 1 from the Cupertino Review.
In 1982, Luis Gonzales became Director of “The Pride of Lodi” and developed a reputation that remains to this day. Winning numerous Music, Marching, Showmanship and Grand Sweepstakes awards at various band reviews throughout the state of California. He led “The Pride of Lodi” to three CMEA “Unanimous Superior” concert performance ratings in 1987, 1988, and 1989. In 1990, Mr. Gonzales left Lodi High School to study conducting with Eugene Corporan at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
In 1991, Dean McNair led “The Pride of Lodi” to another CMEA “Unanimous Superior” concert performance rating. Mr. McNair then left to become the Director of Bands at Livermore High School.
In 1992, Beth Sanders assumed charge of “The Pride of Lodi” and developed a fine concert band known for placing numerous members in the California Band Directors Association All-State Honor Band on an annual basis. She left to become the Director of Bands at Houston Middle School, a feeder school to Lodi High.
In 1995, Thomas Slabaugh left Bear Creek High School to become the tenth Band Director at Lodi High. He moved on to become a music instructor in the Sacramento area.
In 1997, Mr. Edward Cloyd became the eleventh Band Director at Lodi High, before moving on to become the Assistant Director at Foothill High School in Pleasanton.
In 1998, the twelfth Director of the Lodi Honor Band was Sandy Headrick. Her focus was to provide comprehensive music education to students and continue the excellent musical traditions established at Lodi High School. She departed to teach high school band in Placerville.
In 1999, Timothy Harris became the thirteenth Director in the band’s 77-year history. Under his direction, the band placed at every competition it entered and received “Unanimous Superior” ratings at every festival. In 2001, the jazz band performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival and was featured on Good Day Sacramento and Fox 40 News at 10, as well as performing for President George W. Bush. In 2000, the marching band was selected to represent the West Coast in the 2001 Citrus Bowl Parade in Orlando, Florida, and appeared on ABC’s “Bowl Time” New Year’s Day! Mr. Harris moved on to become the director of the bands at Chabot College in Hayward. https://www.sjsu.edu/music/faculty_staff/harris_timothy/
In 2003, David T. Vickerman became the fourteenth conductor of the Lodi High School Band Program. The bands consistently earned top honors and ratings at every festival they attended in addition to acceptance at numerous prestigious concert events including the WBA Concert Band Festival and a solo performance in Carnegie Hall. In 2008, David moved to Oregon to pursue a master’s degree in Conducting.
In 2008, Joshua Butterfield returned to Lodi High Bands as the fifteenth Director of bands. Mr. Butterfield had previously worked with both former Lodi High Directors, Timothy Harris, and David T. Vickerman, as a Marching and Visual Caption head coach, where the band performed at the Citrus Bowl Parade in Orlando, Florida, and the Bahamas.
In 2009, Blair Williams became Director of Lodi High Honor Band as their 16th instructor. He left the position suddenly at the end of the summer band camp and the beginning of the 2011-12 school year. He is currently working with the University of Nevada-Reno’s Wolf Pack Marching Band as the percussion arranger and instructor.
Mr. Guevara became the Director of Instrumental Music at Lodi High School in 2011, where he taught and directed: Piano, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Marching Band, Winter Percussion, and Winter Guard. During his tenure, Mr. Guevara, known as “G” to students and parents, returned the Field Marching and Color Guard programs and updated the Field Marching uniforms, with an avante-guard look, while also honoring the classic tartan plaid by incorporating it into the new style. It was during his final year that the NCBA Fall Field Marching shows were sadly canceled half-way through the Fall 2018 season, due to severe air quality from the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season ever recorded in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres. Mr. Guevara is currently the band instructor at Houston Middle School, a feeder school into Lodi High’s music program.
In 2019, Bernadette Dempsey became the new Director of Instrumental Music at Lodi High School. She had been the Director of band programs at a Tracy High School, with a Parade Band. Bernadette plays the bassoon and grew up in the central valley and received her teaching and music degree at the University of the Pacific, after attending San Joaquin Delta College. During her first season, the entire Winter Percussion/Guard program as well as the school year was abruptly canceled, as the United States went under a stay at home order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.