West Potomac Band
West Potomac High School boasts one of the very best band programs in Fairfax County. We’re an Honor Band at a Blue Ribbon School, and the musical instruction our kids enjoy is extraordinary.
All band students participate in one of our three concert bands (Symphonic Winds, Wind Ensemble, or Concert Band). We’ve got an award-winning marching band, two jazz bands, and a growing indoor drumline ensemble. Our musicians also have the opportunity to play in the orchestra pit for the school’s theatre productions.
Stephen H. Rice
Steve Rice has been the band director at West Potomac High School since 1993. Under his direction, West Potomac’s concert and marching bands have received dozens of superior VBODA ratings. He has led West Potomac to the Virginia Honor Band Award six times. Mr. Rice takes an active role in the music education community beyond West Potomac as well, serving for example, as the chairman of VMEA District 10, and directing the Virginia Ambassadors of Music Europe trip.
Mr. Rice received his Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Kentucky in 1988. While at UK, Mr. Rice was an active participant in the concert and jazz bands and the trombone ensemble. During his last two years in the nationally recognized Wildcat Marching Band, he served as a marching instructor and the band librarian. In his senior year, he was appointed student leader of the Wildcat Basketball pep band. Mr. Rice also participated in the University Choristers, the premier vocal ensemble at UK and served on the staff of the Kentucky University Summer Band Camp. His studies included composition with Joseph Baber, composer in residence at UK, and instrumental arranging with Dr. Richard Domek, Dean of the College of Fine Arts.Mr. Rice completed his undergraduate education at UK with student teaching at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky. The Lafayette band is under the direction of J. Steven Moore, nationally known drill writer and developer of Advantage Showare, the leading drill-writing software. After graduating from UK, Mr. Rice began his teaching career in Lee County, Kentucky. The next year, he moved on to direct the Washington County High School Band. While at Washington County, one of his bands placed fifth in its class in the Kentucky State Marching Band Championships, a tremendous achievement. Later, at James Madison University, Mr. Rice served as graduate assistant to Dr. Patrick Rooney and the university band program and as a guest clinician at the JMU Summer Band Camp. He was a drill writer and arranger for the Marching Royal Dukes and studied arranging with composer Robert W. Smith. Mr. Rice received a Master of Music Education from JMU in 1993. He is the principal bass trombone for the Fairfax Wind Symphony.
The band director provides the students with a full musical education through teaching, testing, rehearsal, and performance. He plans and conducts each rehearsal, as well as hires the auxiliary staff members and supervises their instruction. The director selects and orders all music and plans all musical aspects of the performances. Students are auditioned, graded, and disciplined by the director. In addition, the director provides the schedule of events, oversees the rental of instruments, and prepares budget recommendations for the WPBPO.
Color Guard Director:
Kelly Mitchell has had a passion for the performing arts and pageantry arts her entire life. She was a member of the Phantom Regiment Color Guard from 2007-2011, earning the DCI World Champion title with the corps in 2008. Kelly also performed with Onyx Winterguard from 2011-2014 and in 2018, earning two WGI Independent World Championships in 2012 and 2014. She has choreographed for Bands of America high school finalist groups across the United States. Kelly has also choreographed for Onyx Color Guard and the Phantom Regiment.
Kelly has a bachelor’s degree in dance from Columbia College in Chicago. Outside of drum corps and marching band, Kelly is an active performer and choreographer. Kelly currently resides in Washington, D.C., where she works as a dancer. She also travels the country as a dance instructor and choreographer with her business, centered around dance education and choreography for the Marching Arts.
Band Administrative Assistant:
Penny Bauer, our band administrative assistant, is responsible for maintaining the music library, rental instrument contracts, and medical form files. In addition, she also handles other administrative duties, such as activity request forms, field trip permission forms, and competition applications. The salary for this assistant is provided by WPBPO funds.