RANDY MCCOY: A Tradition of Excellence' is reflected in the TPSD band program

When we talk about excellence in education for the Tupelo Public School District, we include every program in our curriculum – not just what is measured on the state and national tests.

The state and national testing programs measure only a fraction of what we want our students to accomplish, and the band program is one of our many excellent programs.

The Tupelo High School Band is one of the oldest and most-traveled public school bands in Mississippi. It has represented Tupelo at music festivals, parades and contests throughout the United States.

The band also has consistently earned superior ratings in concert, sight reading, and marching at state contests as well as at national competitions.

Performances of Tupelo students have consistently reflected the quality of leadership in our program.

In 1970, a young band director named Floyd Stevens assumed leadership of the Tupelo High School Golden Wave Band. Over the past 34 years, Mr. Stevens has guided the high school band to even greater heights.

During the years that Mr. Stevens has served as band director, the THS band has participated in state band contest 32 out of a possible 34 years.

At state contest, bands are judged in categories of concert, sight reading and marching. Possible ratings are superior, excellent, good or fair. Over the past 34 years, the Tupelo High Band has received 70 superiors, 26 excellents and 1 good rating. In addition, the band has achieved “all-superior” ratings 14 times since 1970, and during this period received ratings of two superiors and one excellent an additional 10 times.

Even more impressive is the fact that since 1991 the THS Band has received all-superior ratings 11 out of the past 13 years.

Being a member of the band has most certainly contributed to a life-long love and appreciation of music for literally thousands of our former students. Many have become members of community college and university bands, while other graduates of the Tupelo band program have continued to study and to pursue careers in music beyond high school.

At least five former members of the Tupelo High School band are band directors in North Mississippi, four others lead band programs in Texas, and one is a collegiate band director in Indiana.

Simply stated, the band program of the Tupelo Public School District is a model of exceptional educational quality. High expectations regarding teamwork, performance and technical difficulty have been blended together to create excellence.

This year, Tupelo bands include 132 seventh graders, 104 eighth graders, 55 ninth graders, and 101 10th through 12th graders.

This type of participation, combined with outstanding community support, are extremely important for the Tupelo Public Schools to maintain the very best of school programs in all areas of education.

Randy McCoy is superintendent of Tupelo Public Schools.