‘A total surprise’

Fairview Aggie Band’s Kilgo honored for 25 years of dedication

Fairview High School Principal Chris Gambrill, Fairview Band Director Nathan Kilgo and Kilgo’s mom, Sherry Kilgo are seen Oct. 21, 2022, when the director was honored for 25 years leading the band. (Martha Needham for The Cullman Tribune)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – Fairview High School Band Director Nathan Kilgo recently reached and was celebrated for a big milestone: 25 years as head of the school’s band program.  

During the Aggies’ Oct. 21 football game, the Aggie Band held its first alumni night in over 10 years in honor of former Fairview Band Director Kevin Yates, who passed away in August. With more than 70 in attendance, Kilgo was surprised when he was called to be recognized and awarded a plaque to commemorate his 25 years of dedication. 

“We were happy to come together to honor Kevin Yates, our former director, who passed away earlier this year. I was very humbled and honored that they recognized me for my 25th year as director. It was a total surprise,” he said. “I had no idea until they called me to the field. I am thankful to all who had a part in that.” 

Kilgo was a student at Fairview High School, graduating in 1991. He went on to attend Wallace State Community College before heading to the University of North Alabama where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. He also earned a master’s in Instructional Systems from Florida State University. 

Kilgo told The Tribune that while he had thoughts of being a band director in middle school, it is not what he first decided to pursue in college, instead focusing on engineering. However, he was required to take music classes for his scholarship at Wallace and discovered a new passion for the subject and changed his major.  

In his time directing, he said, his style has been influenced by all his previous directors. “I am so thankful for the impact Steve McLendon, Kevin Yates, Robert Bean, Ricky Burks, Mark Neal, Dr. Edd Jones, Tom Risher and Dr. Rick Mason had on me.” 

Kilgo sees his students when they start out in band in as sixth-grade rookies and gets to watch them grow into young leaders. 

“I am the only teacher that these students see consistently from middle school through high school. If they start as beginners and stay through graduation, I have them for seven years straight,” he said. “It is always a joy seeing them hit their milestones – first concert, first ball game, first parade, first contest – and mature into young adults.” 

He said the numbers of students in band were pretty consistent up until 2020. “With the inconsistent schedule over the past two years, the numbers dropped off, but I believe they are turning around and back on the upswing.” 

He is proud of another successful season. At competitions, the Fairview Aggie Band has received superior ratings and Best in Class awards for color guard and feature twirler.  

Kilgo added, “My favorite part of being the director is seeing students work on things they don’t think they are capable of and succeed at those things through a strong performance.” 

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