BUSINESS

Oxford schools band director builds a foundation of color

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Jessica Roebuck. Photo by Tucker Robbins.

Tucker Robbins
Oxford Stories
tyrobbin@go.olemiss.edu

From playing her first musical instrument in sixth grade to winning a world class championship, an Oxford music teacher has been diligently working to gain experience and build a strong foundation within her programs.

Jessica Roebuck, a local band/color guard director for both Oxford High School and Oxford Middle School, grew up in Jackson and attended Jackson Academy. At this private school, she began playing flute in sixth grade and later became part of a marching band that competed in Bands of America competitions.

As a woodwind player requirement at Jackson Academy, Roebuck joined the color guard and fell in love with the activity. She continued to pursue music throughout high school, and became a prominent member of her program.

During her senior year fall show “Versatility,” she was one of the band’s drum majors, a part of the flag line, a flute soloist, a rifle soloist, and a part of the mellophone line. That same year, the Jackson Academy marching band, comprised of 23 members, won at the Bands of America championships in class A.

After graduating high school, Roebuck enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi to pursue a degree in music education and became a member of the Pride of Mississippi Marching Band Color Guard, where she was a captain her sophomore, junior, and senior years. Roebuck also began working with local high schools, recommended by her college band director.

While attending USM, Roebuck decided to become even more involved in the marching arts, and a high school instructor inspired her to one day audition for a color guard and the marching bands major league, Drum Corps International.

In 2007, Roebuck was contracted with Spirit of Atlanta drum and bugles corps. This started her drum corps career. She left home for the summer and traveled the country performing in East Coast states. She even met her future husband that summer while marching with Spirit of Atlanta.

The following summer was Roebuck’s last season to be eligible to march under the Drum Corps International’s strict age policy, and she chose to chase her dream and audition for Phantom Regiment. She was successful in her audition and was contracted for the summer of 2008 to perform in Phantom’s show “Spartacus” that ended up winning first place at DCI world championships.

After wrapping her drum corps career, Roebuck finished her degree in music education and was quickly hired as a band director at Wayne County High School and Clara Middle School. She spent four years working with the program, but felt limited with the color guard because four middle schools fed into one high school, so starting an early training program was almost impossible.

Upon reaching her fourth year, the band program had an almost complete faculty turnover. Although she interviewed elsewhere, Roebuck was the only director to stay because she refused to abandon the students she had been teaching and leave them with an entirely new set of directors.

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Oxford Middle School. Photo by Tucker Robbins.

The following year, Roebuck slowly began to interview for other jobs, but still had a heavy heart about leaving her students. So when her band director from Southern called and asked if he could give her name to someone looking for a band director/color guard director, she said yes.

“Literally, it was right after that as I was pulling into my house,” she said. “I had just hung up the phone, and it rings. I was like, ‘Well, that was quick, and sure enough, it was Mel Morse from Oxford.”

Morse immediately began to tell her his plans for the program and invited her to Oxford for an interview. He said he had just gotten the approval to start a junior high color guard class during school hours, and, reluctantly, she took the job.

Her first year with Oxford Middle School and Oxford High School was the initial year for a junior high color guard class at the beginner level. She began with one class of seventh and eighth graders, and as the fall season progressed, Roebuck requested to start a winter guard program and was approved. This group was a mash up of seventh and eighth graders and other high school students, and they placed fourth in the state in novice class.

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Behind the scenes. Photo by Tucker Robbins.

Moving into her second year in Oxford, she recruited enough students and asked to start a second junior high class at the intermediate level. After a bit of discussion, she received approval.

Roebuck now directs two junior high color guard programs and the high school fall and winter color guard programs with the assistance of one color guard technician, Jacob Cosby.

“She cares so much about her kids,” Cosby said. “She works so hard to make sure they have everything they need to be successful. Jessica is one of the most humble people I have ever met.”

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