A Louder Finale

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A Louder Finale

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If you went to James Buchanan Middle School, chances are you saw Mr. Gary Louder (Faculty) at least once. The 2018-2019 school year is the last year you’ll see Louder, though. After 35 years in the Tuscarora School District, Louder is retiring at the end of the school year.

As a graduate of Altoona Area High School, he stayed local for his first two years of college. He attended Penn State’s Altoona campus for his first two years, then transferred to the main campus to finish his studies. After graduating from Penn State with a Bachelor’s in Music Education, he first began teaching in Oneonta, New York before returning to his home state to teach for a couple years in Potter County, Pennsylvania.

“After starting my teaching career, I went back to Penn State during the summers and received my Master’s Degree in Music Education,” Louder said.

After leaving Potter County, Louder was interviewed for an opening at JBMS. The opening was for the seventh- and eighth-grade Band director, which he was then hired for. For the beginning of his career at the middle school, that was all that he taught, but as the years progressed, he took on more duties.

“For the past eleven years, I have directed the Middle School Orchestra,” said Louder, “and for the past nine years, the sixth-grade Band.”

Louder conducts the high school Band as they play “Liberty March.”

It’s not just the middle school that Louder teaches at, though. For the past two years, Louder has been teaching elementary band lessons. He also served at the assistant high school band director for seventeen years.

“The Mummer’s Parade and the Apple Blossom Parade are our two big trips for the year,” Louder said. “However, the band also marches at the Mercersburg Halloween Parade and the Mercersburg and St. Thomas Memorial Day Parades, as well as participating in the Homecoming Parade.”

With parades every year and thirty-five years in Tuscarora alone, many memories are made. Louder’s favorite memory with the JBMS Band is when they were selected as the Junior Royalty Parade Honor Band for the 2010 Buckhannon, West Virginia Strawberry Festival. They traveled by coach bus, spent Friday and Saturday marching in parades, and toured the West Virginia University football and basketball venues on the way back.

“Another memorable trip was when the band marched in a 4th of July parade in downtown Washington, D.C., representing Mercersburg as one of the birthplaces of an American president,” said Louder.

Louder has represented Mercersburg in surrounding states, but he’s also active in the musical community of Mercersburg.

“Out of school, I have been director of the Mercersburg Area Community Band for the last 14 years,” Louder said.

Louder speaks during his time on stage.

Once summer rolls around and Louder has officially retired, he will still be directing the Mercersburg Area Community Band. As Louder leaves the school, he offers advice to new teachers.

“Find a school district where you feel comfortable and determine what age group fits your personality and teaching talents,” said Louder.

Alongside his regular summer routine of directing, Louder plans to vacation at the seashore. He also looks forward to having free time to do what he wants, when he wants. However, he also still has duties at home.

“If this summer is anything like last year, I’ll spend the rest of the summer mowing my lawn,” said Louder.

With Louder’s 35 years in Tuscarora School District, plus more in other school districts, he has inspired hundreds of students to continue playing music after they’ve left him at the middle school.