East St. John band director leads with stern but compassionate hand

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 2, 2009

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – The St. John Parish School Board showered accolades upon East St. John High School band director Joseph Torregano for the success he has had shaping his students’ minds, not only musically but academically as well.

According to a recent report, 41 out of the 70, or 58 percent, of students in Torregano’s band program attained a grade point average of 3.0 or above. One graduated with a perfect GPA of 4.0.

“I don’t care how much music you learn,” said Torregano. “You will walk across that stage.”

He added his hands are “stern” and not just for counting out musical notes.

That sternness clearly comes out of love for his students, however.

While showing the board what the new band uniforms will look like, Torregano noted he pays $120 out of his own pocket each month for the storage of the band’s instruments.

The board vowed to quickly remedy the situation and to reimburse Torregano for past expenses.

As for the new uniforms, the board recently sought bids for the replacement of the garments.

At Thursday’s meeting, a bid of $47,675.68 from Fruhauf Uniforms of Wichita, Kan., was accepted. According to the stipulations, the uniforms will be delivered within 120 days and come with a 12-year warranty. Additionally, the school system will receive a 2 percent discount with a 50 percent deposit or a 4 percent discount if the uniforms are paid for in advance.

The new, lighter-weight uniforms should arrive just in time for the start of the 2010 Mardi Gras season.

Among the notable alterations to the new uniforms is the absence of a stripe running down the leg of the garment. It is a look most bands are getting away from, said Torregano.

Board Vice President Patrick Sanders also noticed the band jackets do not mention the city or state anywhere. Torregano said he would look into it and see if the addition would put the project over budget.

Board member Russ Wise asked if any money has been budgeted for repair and replacement of uniforms. Torregano replied he’d gladly take whatever money the board wished to grant to the program.

The board has a vested interest in keeping the thriving band program well funded and successful.

Wise noted studies have shown students with music instruction in school generally attain a GPA at least one point higher than that of their peers.