Gayso looks to continue success at Jasper
JASPER — Chad Gayso was a pup, fresh out of college, when he landed the Forest Park Junior-Senior High School band director gig in 2004. Now a decorated veteran who has continually guided the Marching Rangers to state-level glory, the Ferdinand man will soon march to the beat of a new band.
At this week’s Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools board meeting, the board approved the addition of Gayso to the district’s powerhouse band program. He will take the helm as Jasper High School’s band director after the school year ends, when longtime JHS leader James Goodhue bows into retirement.
It’s a monumental shift in the Dubois County high school band climate that replaces an outgoing legend with another proven leader. But the decision wasn’t easy for the 37-year-old Gayso.
“I am forever grateful,” he reflected on his time at Forest Park in an emotional phone interview on Thursday. “I am forever grateful to Forest Park and all the people that I’ve met through the years. But as always, No. 1 [are] the students. The memories we’ve made. It’s been wonderful.”
During his 15 years with the Marching Rangers, Gayso led the dominant ensemble to six state championships and five runner-up finishes in the Indiana State School Music Association’s Open Class D.
He credited his students with the legacy of success those bands have cemented.
After graduating from Indiana State University with a degree in music education, he knew about Forest Park’s rich tradition, and he remembers being eager and excited to lead the school’s charge.
He heard about the Jasper director job opening late last month when Goodhue’s retirement was officially announced. Gayso and his wife, Kristin, talked for hours about the change and growth it could bring.
They thought that if there was ever going to be a time to make a change, this might be it.
For one, the job is close — the Gaysos don’t plan to move from their Ferdinand home in the immediate future. And the Jasper band program is exceptional in its own right — the Marching Wildcats have made the ISSMA Open Class B state finals in each of the past 29 years, while the high school’s concert band finished in the top 16 groups in the state in 21 of the past 26 years. Working with a team of directors also appealed to Gayso.
“The way it all just kind of laid out, it sort of just made sense that if it was ever going to happen, that now was the time,” he said.
Greater Jasper Schools Superintendent Tracy Lorey said Gayso was one of many prospective directors to apply for the position. His track record made him stand out.
“First of all, his success in his current role obviously shows that he has the kind of skill and talent that we would be looking for to continue the success that we have in our program,” Lorey said. “When you look at his resume, you see a long history of success.”
Gayso has also worked as a music arranger for the Jasper program’s marching band since 2012, another experience that set him apart from his competition.
He has been in touch with all the Jasper directors, and he plans on introducing himself to the band students soon. He said he will also ensure Forest Park’s transition to a new director is smooth. Goodhue has been a big help to him, Gayso said, and the exiting director will continue to familiarize his replacement with the Jasper program’s operations.
Current Jasper director James Goodhue's upcoming retirement was announced in late February. He has worked with the marching band program and high school concert band for 29 years. At age 55, his urge to compete has diminished, and combined with other, personal reasons, Goodhue said he weighed the possibilities and determined the end of this school year is the time to leave.
When Gayso thinks back on his time at Forest Park, he doesn’t think of the trophies. He thinks of the kids, parents and faculty that drive the perennially great program.
“Just the whole community,” he said. “And the memories that I’ll take from there.”