History and Tradition

Marshall Howenstein, doing what he loved


The earliest band at West Lafayette dates back to 1930, when Superintendent Frank Burtsfield and cornetist Louis Elmore provided the push to get it rolling.  The first true marching band began in 1934, with Mr. Elmore conducting.  Legendary WL music instructor Marshall Howenstein took over the band department in 1935, a post he maintained until his 1965 retirement.  The auditorium is dedicated in his honor, and our bands still play the West Lafayette Hymn and Victory Song, which Howenstein wrote for our school in the 1940s. 

The West Lafayette Bands have had relatively few directors over the years:

L.B. Elmore: 1934
Marshall Howenstein: 1935-1965
J. Robert Schlatter: 1965-1978
Gene Valentine: 1972-1979 (JH Band)
Ron Richardson: 1979-1983
William Carson: 1983-84
Randy Leazenby: 1984-1987 (JH Band)
Marilyn Renner: 1984-2002
Matt Conaway: 2002-2012
Don Pettit: 2012-Present
Clayton Henady: 2015-2018 (Assistant)


J. Robert Schlatter (center), with two former students and the IU and Purdue Band Directors


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