PUNXSUTAWNEY — “One, two, ready, HUT!”

Before the instruments blare and the drumsticks pound, a leader can be seen in front of the Punxsutawney Area High School band, waving her hands in command.

PAHS Band Director Kurt Cessna said the band has three drum majors – Isabella Dines, Megan Ray and Jenna Diem.

The job of a drum major helps students develop confidence and leadership skills, as well as longlasting friendships, Cessna said.

“It’s a great leadership role,” he said. “It shows them what it’s like to have to worry about everybody at the same time. It gets them out of their bubble of what they normally do.”

PAHS senior Megan Ray says she has been in the band since she was in the fourth grade, but this is her first year as a drum major.

“It gives me the opportunity to help out the students in band, and oversee things,” she said.

It also gives her the chance to point out things the others may not notice while they’re playing, Ray said.

Ray has dabbled in many band roles – starting with the flute, she moved on to the melaphone, and last year she went to districts playing the French Horn. This year, she plays the trumpet.

“Each individual part has a big role – it shows how different each one is, but how great they are when they come together,” she said.

She has found her best friendships through the band, Ray says.

“The band has developed in a great, positive way,” she said. “We keep adding more and more kids, and we push each other to the best of our abilities.”

It’s rewarding to see the final show come together, and they are all excited and relieved afterward, Ray says of football games and parades.

Ray is thankful to all the band parents and people who support their hard work, she says.

Although it’s sometimes overwhelming to have all eyes on you, Ray says it has allowed her to set an example for other students.

“In eighth grade, one of my biggest role models was a drum major,” she said. “I wanted to be a good role model like she was to younger kids.”

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