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Polar Bear Band

The Polar Bear Band proudly represents Fairmont Senior High School.  Fairmont is located in north-central West Virginia, with a population of about 19,000.  Fairmont Senior is one of three high schools in Marion County, with a student population of about 800.

The band staff includes director A. Shawn Dunn, assistant director John Sullivan, percussion instructor Jimmy Halpenny, and guard instructor Danielle Edmond, assisted by Megan Wilmoth.

The Polar Bear Band consists of many ensembles:  The Polar Bear Marching Band, the Concert Band, the Symphonic Band, the Jazz Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble, and the Steel Band.  All of the groups are active throughout the year and consistently achieve a high level of performance, receiving many superior ratings and top awards.


Very few organizations contribute more to the community than the active high school band. With youthful energies properly directed, there is no activity where young people are given better guidance in teamwork, good musicianship, respect for authority and the ability to get along well with others.

The Polar Bear Band is a member of the Tournament of Bands, one of the largest competitive marching band organizations in the country. The band is a member of Chapter 13 which includes the entire state of West Virginia.

The Polar Bear Band has received national and regional acclaim for its consistently superior performances at both competitive and non-competitive events. In addition to its regularly scheduled appearances at local school events, the Polar Bear Band has performed at Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, the Virginia Tournament of Bands, the Florida Festival of States, the Virginia Beach Band Festival, the Marching Bands of America contest in Harrisonburg, Virginia; Toledo, Ohio; Johnson City, Tennessee; Morgantown, West Virginia; The Orange Blossom Festival and Citrus Bowl Parade in Orlando, Florida; the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC; and the All-American Music Festival in Orlando.


The Fairmont Senior High School Polar Bear Concert Band and Symphonic Band present special programs for the community, host traditional Christmas and Spring concerts, and also participate in the school's commencement exercises. The Concert Band helps to give the freshmen band members experience in playing concert literature of a higher level than they've played before high school. The Symphonic Band performances of grade level V and VI music in the annual band festival sponsored by the West Virginia Band Masters Association have been rated superior by nationally recognized adjudicators since 1962. The bands are represented each year by students in the West Virginia All-State band, West Virginia University Honors band, and the Solo and Ensemble Festival.


The Fairmont Senior High School Polar Bear Jazz Ensemble was selected as one of the twelve national finalists for the Jazz at Lincoln Center competition in New York City in 1997, selected as the outstanding high school jazz ensemble in West Virginia in 1993 and 1997, first place at the Orlando Jazz Band Festival in 1992, first place at the Virginia Beach Band Festival in 1993, first place at the West Liberty State College Jazz Contest in 1994 and 1995 and first place and Grand Champion at the Orlando Festival of Music in 1996. Selected in 1997 to perform at the Southern Music Educators National Conference in Nashville Tenn. The ensemble annually attends the Marshall University, West Virginia University, and Fairmont State College Jazz Festivals as well as the West Virginia State Jazz Band Festival. The Jazz ensemble won first place in the 2004 All American Music Festival in Orlando.


The Fairmont Senior High Percussion Ensemble received an invitation to perform at the 1999 Bands of America National Concert Band and Percussion Festival as one of the top high school percussion ensembles in America. The percussion ensemble at Fairmont Senior gives the student the chance to play music written just for its medium. The percussion and jazz ensembles have performed with outstanding guest artists including Guy Romonko from Ohio University, Phil Faini, Curtis Johnson, David Hastings, Keith Jackson from West Virginia University, Philip DeGreg from the University of Cincinnati, and Jeff Jarvis of Kendor Music.


This is the newest addition to the FSHS Instrumental Music Department. One of only three high school steel bands in WV, the group performs extensively throughout the year. In 2008 the ensemble was added as a regular daily class, and the band was selected as an honor ensemble for the 2009 WVMEA State Conference.