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OUR STAFF

Chris Miller, Director of Bands

CHRIS MILLER

DIRECTOR OF BANDS

 

Mr. Chris Miller is the Director of Bands at Francis Howell High School. Since 2003, when he arrived, the band has consistently been a high-achieving, hard-working, and award-winning band program. The band has grown into three concert bands, a jazz band, the marching band, winter drum line, and winter guard. Occasionally, a jazz combo or small brass ensemble will perform for various school functions. The marching band is a finalist at almost every festival they attend, the drum line is frequently a semi-finalist at WGI Championships, and the winter guard is working to be a top three finisher in MCCGA. The Wind Ensemble consistently earns One ratings at the State Large Ensemble Festival and sends 20-30 solos and small ensembles to the Festival each year. 

 

Personally, Mr. Miller is an active performer around the St. Louis area with the Genesis Jazz Project and the Sentimental Journey Dance Band, in addition to several theatre troupes, churches, and other organizations that often secure his services. Mr. Miller toured Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain in college and performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. He has performed with jazz greats Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, Chris Vadala, Bobby Shew, Vince DiMartino, Allen Vizzuti, Frank Mantooth, Roger Ingram, Jim Manley, Don Menza, Tia Fuller, Matt Wilson, and the Boston Brass. Mr. Miller can also be found riding his Harley, playing with the family dog, or spending all day with his Big Green Egg smoking a wonderful meat treat. If you are lucky and join the band program, you just might be treated to one of his EGG-cellent meals!

 

Mr. Miller would never be able to lead our band program without the tremendous support of his wife, Jackie, and his two children, Alyssa and Carson.

Joe Sparks, Visual and Design Coordinator

JOE SPARKS

VISUAL AND DESIGN COORDINATOR

 

Joe is currently in his 10th year as program coordinator for the Francis Howell Marching Vikings Band. He has Gold Drum and Bugle Corps and The Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps.


Joe has been an adjudicator for the F.M.B.C. Florida Marching Band Championships Super Regional as well as several contests across the region. Joe is the former brass caption head at Gold Drum and Bugle Corps 2014 Open Class Finalist. He also served on the visual team at The Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps 2004/2006 World Class finalist, Marion Cadets 2002/03 Division III Bronze medalist and Teal Sound Div. II Finalist 2005. He also co-authored B & S Basics, a comprehensive guide to marching and maneuvering fundamentals, utilized by programs across the country.

 

Joe has worked with several high school programs across the country such as O’Fallon Township High School, Illinois 2007 Bands of America St. Louis Super Regional finalist, Middleburg High School, Florida, F.M.B.C. Class 3A 8th place 2011, and Star City, Ark. Class A Chic-fil-A Bowl National Champions 2015, Arkansas Class A runner-up.

Joe attended the University of Arkansas and Missouri State University where he studied Euphonium and Trombone. Joe has one son who resides in Atlanta, Ga. He is also a member of the traditional jazz group Annie and the Fur Trappers.

Charlie Bourrage, Guard and Dance Coordinator

CHARLIE BOURRAGE

GUARD AND DANCE COORDINATOR

 

Charlie is in his 26th year of teaching in the pageantry arts. His previous tenure includes groups in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

 

His background includes a BA from Southern Illinois University and a BA in Interior Design from Patricia Stevens College.  He is a classically trained pianist and has played for a number of touring casts for musical theatre and the Belleville Philharmonic. 

 

Charlie currently works as an Interior Designer and Account Manager for Prosource Wholesale in Earth City after 12 years teaching Instrumental and Vocal Music at the High School Level.  In his spare time he enjoys being a traveling foodie, exercise in all forms to stay in shape, and spending time with his family and friends. 

 

He is pleased to once again share his talents in color, design, and performance for the Howell Viking Band.

Mark Ishman, Percussion and Electronics Coordinator

MARK ISHMAN

PERCUSSION AND ELECTRONICS COORDINATOR

Mark is a well-known percussion native from St. Louis, Missouri.  He has been involved in the DCI and WGI percussion activity for over 25 years as a performer and instructor with Bluestars Drum Corps, Gold Drum Corps, Syracuse Brigadiers, Freedom Percussion, and Voyager Intrepid Percussion.  For the last 12 years, Mr. Ishman has been the firector of percussion at Francis Howell High School.  In his spare time, he plays jazz gigs on drum set with fellow area musicians and band directors.  Mark Ishman is endorsed through Innovative Percussion and D'Addario/Evans Heads.

Herrie Pullom, Drumline Technician

HERRIE PULLOM

DRUMLINE TECHNICIAN

 

Zachary O'Connor, Color Guard Technician

ZACHARY O'CONNOR

COLOR GUARD TECHNICIAN

Zachary began his colorguard career at Francis Howell High School in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he marched for six seasons with Avidity Independent A & Open, earning multiple gold medals in the Mid Continent Color Guard Association (MCCGA) circuit and securing a finalist spot in the Winter Guard International (WGI) Open Class in 2018.

In 2019, Zachary joined the inaugural cast of Northwest Independent World in Bentonville, Arkansas, where he earned a gold medal in the MCCGA circuit. He returned to Northwest Independent in 2023, competing exclusively in the WGI circuit.

In 2024, Zachary performed with Onyx Independent World, based in Dayton, Ohio. Competing in both the OIPA and WGI circuits, he earned several gold medals and achieved a top 10 finalist position at the WGI Championships, an esteemed accomplishment in the colorguard community.

Zachary has pursued a teaching career across the Midwest at select high schools. He currently directs the colorguard and winter guard programs at North Point High School and is on staff with Francis Howell's colorguard and winter guard programs.

Professionally, Zachary excels in the field of Visual Merchandising as a Global Program Director for Intel and various other clients with 2020 Companies.

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