As the Blue Lions celebrated the season with their annual Holiday Orchestra concert, Saturday’s performance also marked the official commemoration of the 100th anniversary of instrumental music at Washington High School.

In the winter of 1921, the all-new Washington High School Orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Karl J. Kay, took the stage at the Glee Club Christmas concert, marking the first organized performance of instrumental music in the history of the WHS.

“Although the instrumentation and uniforms have changed,” said Matt Stanley, group manager, “the passion and musicality of the Blue Lions has remained unwavering since the first note played in 1921.”

The band commemorated their centennial by playing the Washington Alma Mater and recognizing the band’s alumni in attendance that day.

“As we celebrate this centennial with a performance by concert and symphony groups combined,” said Trevor Patton, director of the Washington Alumni Association, at the recognition ceremony, “these student musicians today carry on the legacy established a century ago by the WHS Orchestra, as well as our proud alumni over the past 100 years. ”

In addition to a performance by the combined WHS groups, the 6th, 7th and 8th grade groups also performed a selection of holiday hits, showcasing the talent that will lead to the next century of instrumental music in Washington Court schools. House City.

However, the group is not done celebrating the centenary, as preparations for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Blue Lion Marching Band in 2024 have already started. More details regarding this commemoration will be communicated shortly by the district.

The following is the earliest known written history of instrumental music in Washington High School, written by the students themselves in the 1923 Sunburst:

One early morning in the fall of 1921, the author of this article met a member of his physics class wearing a trumpet case. The student in question paused for a moment explaining that he would be absent from school that day due to an engagement to play with a band in a nearby town. A short conversation followed in which it was revealed that there were many students of varying degrees of musical ability playing a variety of instruments and enrolled in no particular Washington High School musical organization.

This was the first of two events leading to the organization of the Washington High School Orchestra. The second event was the teachers ‘visit to the Central Ohio Teachers’ Association meeting in Dayton that same fall.

Immediately upon returning from this meeting, after a conference with our principal, Mr. Thompson, it was decided to make an effort to bring together all students interested in orchestral instruments in an organization which will be known as Washington High School Orchestra, with the aim of encouraging the development of musical talent, increasing interest in school activities and creating an organization capable of functioning musically during the various gatherings and public entertainment organized under the aegis of the high school.

From the start the orchestra turned out to be a group of young people who were very likeable in their tastes and demeanor, and a review of high school driving records showed they were all people of a high level. level of conduct at school. So, while the original membership was based purely on musical ability, it was decided to require high demeanor and a reasonably satisfactory scholarship for membership looking for new recruits.

We believe that this arrangement has been very wise, as it ensures harmony of conduct as well as sound in our meetings, and makes it easier for the organization to obtain from school authorities any reasonable concessions necessary for the development and the fulfillment of our various commitments. In fact, in this regard, it can be said that there is no reason why an organization such as a high school orchestra, should not be on the same general status as members of sports teams where the scholarship and behavior are an invariable condition for participation in various activities.

At the time of our organization we hoped to be able to perform in public by the end of the school year, but to our surprise, we found ourselves giving our first performance at the Christmas Glee Club Concert, 1921 …

We hope to have generated enough enthusiasm and support in the school to make our organization, like athletics, a permanent department of student activity …

We would like to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation for all the encouragement we have received, both at school and in the city in general. We will seriously try to earn the continuation of the support that has been so generously given to us …

Yours for a bigger and better future,


A photo of the original WHS Orchestra from 1921, with names captioned.

Blue Lions commemorates the centenary of instrumental music


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