Rosanne Weathers heard an increasingly familiar tune when she learned that Shane Sherrodd, her sons' high school marching band director, was heading for Oak Hills High. Sherrodd, the popular director of Hesperia High's marching band, was one of a number of well-regarded instructors from Hesperia and Sultana high schools to leave their positions for Oak Hills, which will open next month.


But Sherrodd's departure presented a practical problem.


"There was no one to hand the band off to,"Weathers said.


Under Sherrodd, the Black & Gold Regiment won collective and individual awards and recognition. Last year, the band won the sweepstakes award at a competition in Barstow, and the jazz band wowed audiences and judges.


Megan Almojuela, a Scorpion trumpeter, played in the Tournament of Roses Honor Band, including last year's selection as a coveted herald trumpeter. Other musicians received college music scholarships as a result of their involvement in the Black & Gold.


"We're a marching school, and we're a competition marching school," Weathers said.


So as the 2008-09 school year winded down and there was no word of a replacement for Sherrodd, Weathers and other parents were worried.


Since the end of school in late May, no booster board has been in place, and there are other concerns: Uniforms need fitting, parental consent forms have to be completed, and students need to get physicals before band camp.


"What's the point of paying for a physical if there's no band camp?" Weathers asked.


On July 13, a month and a half after school ended, the school district announced Sherrodd's replacement, district music instructor Melissa Long. A four-year employee of the Hesperia Unified School District, last year Long split her time teaching elementary school music at Juniper, Cottonwood, Topaz and Hollyvale schools.


Long first began participating in marching band as a middle school musician in a highly competitive are of central New York. She received her bachelor's degree and master's in music education from Syracuse University.


"I've done a lot of marching, but I just haven't done it in four years."


But the challenge has captured Long's imagination.


"I'm excited," Long said. "I think it's going to be a good year. It's going to be a lot of work."


Last week, Long met with drum major Matt Frericks and his assistant Leighton "Skylar" Smith. They talked about next year and went over responsibilities and goals.


But Long understands she has a lot on her plate.


"We have to get everything rolling in a very short amount of time. I'm trying to compact it in the shortest amount of time possible and still do a good job."


Long also needs to discover how similar her East Coast marching style is to Sherrodd's. While many commands are universal, there are often subtle nuances that differ. In the event of differences, "We'll see if we can find a happy medium," she said.


Although Sherrodd has moved on to Oak Hills, he is in contact with Long and has offered his assistance during the transition.


"We'll see what's best for the students so they can be most successful," Long said. "If I need to ask him a question I can."


Long is also getting together with percussion coach David Ingram and pageantry coach Allie Myrick to help move the program along. And she's received other words from well-wishers.


"The school has been very supportive."


For many students and family members, the Scorpion Marching Band has been much more than just a class. It's been a refuge, Weathers said.


"These are the coolest kids," Weathers said. "They're completely reachable and reliable. They come from different backgrounds, but when they get in the band they are all of the same mind, the same heart."


One band member who has a difficult home life has discovered band to be like a family.


"When this kid comes to school he is involved. He is accepted. If it weren't for band he wouldn't have any place to go. Band is that shot in the arm they don't get anywhere else."


When Weathers' husband died a few years ago, Sherrodd became a father figure for her teenage sons, she added.


Normally the Scorpion Marching Band has more than 80 participants, but Long expects about 65. Although she is concerned about band members' attrition, she believes there are positives about being a smaller ensemble.


"You can do a lot of great things with a small band. You can fine tune things more. You can start to really refine what they do."


And so a new song is about to begin.


"I really hope that we can continue with the traditions that have been set up and start some new traditions along the way. I'm excited and really look forward to working with the students. I think we're going to have a lot of fun."