William Evan Curtis
HOLLY POND – After 25 years on the job, many awards and a generation of loving former students, Luette Benefield has left behind a big pair of shoes to fill at Holly Pond High School (HPHS). A young man born about the time Benefield came to Holly Pond is stepping up to the plate.
William Evan Curtis is a Cullman native and graduate of Vinemont High School, where he played in the band. He received a degree in music education at the University of North Alabama, playing brass and finishing his college days as drum major of the Pride of Dixie Band. He will take over the HPHS band starting in the 2017-18 school year, and he’s looking forward to the task.
“It’s really great,” Curtis said, “being able to graduate and take all the experience I gathered in college, and get to come back- come home- and to keep on doing this band stuff! I’m so excited!”
What are you looking forward to?
“Being awesome, having an awesome group of kids and playing some awesome music.”
Are you nervous?
“This is my first band directing job, so I’m a little nervous about that. I’m a first-year teacher; there’s just the obstacles of dealing with those things. But I know it’s going to be fine. I just look forward to working hard, and I look forward to seeing an excellent HPHS Bronco Band!”
Saying goodbye to someone who's been around for a long time isn't easy; many of the students and faculty at Holly Pond High School would agree. Despite the bittersweet feelings about her farewell, Benefield, along with Holly Pond High School Principal, Kim Butler invited all band members and their parents to give one more goodbye and meet the new face of the Bronco Band Tuesday evening.
While the band room was packed full of curious students, most were initially hesitant when Curtis introduced himself. After spending so long under Benefield, it seemed like they didn't know how to react to her replacement. However, an offer to come and talk to him personally helped the students quickly warm up to him, as several carried on conversations for nearly 10 minutes. One student even donated her personal set of bells as a welcoming gift, as the band's set is in poor condition.
During a break in the student conversations, The Tribune talked to Curtis more about what he expects for the band's future.
What reactions have you gotten already from the students and teachers?
"Everybody seems very optimistic. Everybody's been very excited, and I definitely want everyone to know that I respect what Ms. Benefield has done here. I really do plan on carrying on that legacy of excellence, and everybody's been very nice, very optimistic, very welcoming. That's really gonna help a lot."
What traditions do you plan to keep or change?
"I don't exactly know what all of the traditions are, so I really look forward to learning about them and maybe making some new traditions."
What plans do you have for the fundraisers – for the band in general and for the auxiliary members?
"I plan on doing multiple car washes for our auxiliaries. We did that a lot when I was in college. I've been hearing about the golf tournament and a chicken dinner. A lot of the fundraisers that are already in place, they could probably run themselves, so I'm definitely planning on using a lot of those. Maybe try to implement some new stuff."
Will you teach a subject outside of band, or will you be a facilitator for the online Access classes?
"When I spoke to Mrs. Butler, she told me that right now there's only band and Access, but in time they would like to implement some more music courses. I'm looking forward to being in discussion with them and increasing the music curriculum here."
What would you say the students can look forward to?
"Three things: working hard, being good and having fun."
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