The History of the Coppell HS Band
Tom Kramer was the band director at CHS from somewhere around 1980-92. He was a Jazz guy from UNT and was hired when CHS was a tiny 2A school. From what I learned a few years ago from Vonita White, Kramer was hired to build the program. The band had been shut down for a while, and Kramer started it up again. He had little experience and learned through trial and error.
As Coppell grew, the program did as well, but Coppell was a small country town and the middle school and high school were all on the same campus (currently CHS9). Coppell MS was on the South Campus and CHS was the North Campus. All bands rehearsed in the same band hall (the one they tore down in 2017 when the building was CMS West). Joe Mehling was Tom Kramer's assistant and the only middle school director until he retired. Rick Norris was our percussion director for a while. Steve Rudig (an amazing trumpet player with the Dallas Jazz Orchestra) taught there as well. Jan (Ferris) Staley was our color guard director for a while.
More about Mr. Kramer – he was heavy into Jazz. The Jazz Band was his baby, but he worked very hard to make the marching and concert band the best he could. The band was never really competitive, but the kids LOVED Mr. Kramer and were totally devoted to the program.
Marching practice in summer was on the parking lot between the North and South campus, but was moved to the big empty field to the West of the South campus when school started up. Weeds, tall grass, and cracks big enough to twist your ankle were a part of the marching band scene and we loved it. We striped our own field for practice.
Our Marching shows were generally “Western” Themed because we were the Cowboys. “Wild, Wild West”, still performed by the Lariettes at Homecoming, was one of the band's marching contest numbers in 1987. Starting in the Fall of 1988, the Lariettes marched with the band so that we would have more people on the field. We marched at the Parade of Champions at the Cotton Bowl every year. We marched on Friday nights at the little Lesley Field by the North Campus and the stands would fill up with about 300 -400 people on both sides.
The current Coppell HS opened in the Fall of 1989. It was luxurious compared to what we dealt with at the old Coppell HS and we loved it, although the campus has been renovated and added onto considerably in the last 30 years. We loved the auditorium at CHS, considering all of our previous concerts were in the awful-sounding white dome at the old campus.
Mr. Kramer left Coppell to teach in Lake Travis for a while before returning to the metroplex and teaching in Rockwall until he passed away in 2018.
Contributors: Brad Smith