About Us


Lakota West High School opened in the fall of ‘97 and is one of two high schools, grades 10 through 12, in the Lakota Local School District. Located twenty miles north of Cincinnati in West Chester and Liberty Townships, Lakota is the 7th largest school system in the state with a student population of more than 18,000. The enrollment at Lakota West is approximately 2,000 in the top three grades.

At Lakota West, we pride ourselves on offering a wide range of quality instrumental experiences, with the concert program at the core. It is the belief of the entire music faculty that a well-rounded education, including challenging musical experiences, encourages a lifelong love of music, as well as responsibility and growth in character that continues into other aspects of the students’ lives.

Elementary. In the Lakota School District, band instruction begins in sixth grade at each of ten elementary schools, meeting twice per week in heterogeneous groupings. For the past several years, over 800 students per year have joined the instrumental music program.

Junior High. At each junior high school — Hopewell, Lakota Ridge, Liberty and Plains — two directors team-teach two or three seventh and two eighth grade bands. A seventh and an eighth-grade jazz band are each offered for one semester. All groups meet five days per week.

Freshman Campus. When the Lakota Local School District opened two new high schools in 1997 — Lakota West and Lakota East — the original high school was transformed into a freshman school serving the entire district. A second freshman school opened in 2008, so there are now separate freshman campuses aligned with the high schools. Each freshman campus has two concert bands and jazz ensembles that meet daily during school.

High School. At Lakota West, Symphonic Winds (Class AA), Symphonic White Band (Class A), Symphonic Red Band (Class A) and Concert Band (Class B) meet daily the entire school year. Jazz Ensemble and two Jazz Bands also are offered daily for the full school year. The Marching Firebirds (consisting of more than 250 members) is a grades 10-12 co-curricular class, which is voluntary and meets three days per week after school. Pep Band and Pit Orchestra are offered seasonally after school.

A Tradition of Excellence. Symphonic Winds has received straight superiors in OMEA class AA since the first year of Lakota West.  The Symphonic Bands and Concert Band have also earned superior ratings at OMEA district and state adjudicated events. In 2006, all four bands earned superior ratings at OMEA state contest for the first time, a state record.

Major Symphonic Winds performances have included:

  • 2011 – Symphonic Winds selected to perform at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, December, 2011 (first band in Ohio to be invited for a third time)
  • 2010 – Dixie Classic Music Festival in Washington, D.C., and Rutgers University
  • December 2006 – Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago (one of six high school bands chosen to perform)
  • December 2004 – Chamber groups performed at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Symphonic Winds also served as a rehearsal clinic band.
  • 2004 – European Tour with performances in Paris, Brussels, and London
  • 2004 – Ohio Music Education association (OMEA) convention
  • 2002 – Capital University New Concert Band Music Reading Clinic
  • 2001 – 30th Annual Ohio Band Directors Conference, Univ. of Akron
  • 2000 – Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago (one of just five bands in the nation chosen and the first ever from the Cincinnati area)
  • 1999 – Music in the Parks Festival in Chicago
  • 1998 – Dixie Classic Music Festival in Atlanta
  • 1998 – Bowling Green State University New Music Reading Clinic

The Lakota West Marching Firebirds have earned over 35 Grand Champion awards since the formation of the school. The Marching Firebirds have earned a superior in class AA at state finals each year, as well as a superior rating at every OMEA marching band competition entered. The band marched in the 1999 Hollywood Christmas Parade and at the 2003 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. In November, 2005, the band traveled to perform at Pearl Harbor and in the Waikiki Holiday Parade. In January, 2008, the band became the first from Cincinnati and southwest Ohio to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. In December, 2010, the Marching Firebirds visited Orlando, Florida, and performed at Disney World and Universal Studios. In November 2013, the Marching Firebirds traveled to New York City to perform in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  In January 2015, the Marching Firebirds will return to Pasadena, California for their second appearance in the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Jazz Ensemble received a superior rating at the inaugural OMEA state jazz contest in 2003. It was also one of just ten high school groups in the nation invited to the 2003 North Texas Jazz Festival. The group also performed at the Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) convention in 2005 and at the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2007. Bands in the jazz program participate in competitions throughout the region, host an annual Jazz Swing Dance, and perform at the annual Jazz ‘n Cakes Pancake Breakfast fundraiser.

Student Growth and Achievement. We encourage private study and participation in honors groups. In a typical year, over 20 Lakota West instrumentalists are placed in All-State honor groups (band, jazz band, and orchestra). More than 95 percent of our students participate in solo and ensemble contest. Many Lakota West students participate in the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra; Southwest Ohio Regional Orchestra; Greater Miami Youth Orchestra; Ohio University Honor Band; Bowling Green State University New Music Reading Clinic; Tri-State Honor Band; and Ohio State Honor Band.

Our band program is supported in part by a very active parent booster group, The Upbeat Club, and by the Lakota Board of Education.

The Instrumentalist Magazine – July 2006 (PDF)
“Better Music Every Year at Lakota West”