Over the past few years, Firebaugh High School’s music program has grown exponentially.

Under the leadership of Jose Ledesma and Firebaugh Middle School band director, Ariell Ompad, the program was able to take on a new facet in 2021, indoor winter percussion.

This new opportunity allowed for many of the band students to become more involved, including middle school students that showed promise in this percussion program. FHS placed in the top three competing teams in the SVWAA Finals both years.

Ledesma, having accomplished much for these ambitious students, has now passed the conducting baton to Kevin Misakian.

At a recent Music Booster meeting, Misakian was present to share his vision for the new school year with the parents who were in attendance. The first thing he mentioned was a focus on establishing a positive attitude with students as well as ensuring that a friendly environment is created for students and parents alike.

Like his predecessor, Misakian will hold a camp for all band students nearing the beginning of the upcoming year. This camp is five days long, and will cover subjects like pep tunes, marching basics, and learning the new march. About 60 students are expected to attend.

The Music Boosters will also have a car wash fundraiser on Aug. 19, in order to begin to rebuild the funds that were used a few months ago to take 42 music students on a spring tour to Disneyland and to visit two colleges in Southern California.

As Misakian is new to the program, he wants to introduce himself to the Firebaugh community. He attended Fresno State to major in music education and continued into his masters with an emphasis in instrumental conducting. While studying, he took the opportunity to work as an instructor for the Bulldog Marching band.

After receiving his masters, he worked in Fresno Unified, moved to Hoover High School, and found joy in teaching at the secondary level, which is when he arrived at Firebaugh High.

Aside from working as the band director, Misakian is also the clarinet instructor at Fresno City College.

Misakian looks forward to creating bonds with the students and community, and creating great music. The new band director says he is impressed with the hard work and excellence he has already seen at FHS.

When discussing goals, Misakian said he hopes to increase the musical literacy of the students by exposing them to large varieties of music and providing numerous opportunities to perform.

In addition, Misakian plans to solidify the band’s approach to parade marching in order to begin participating in field shows in the near future.

The upcoming year for the Firebaugh High School band program is looking to be full of grand opportunities for students to excel in music.

Samantha Rangel