Grimes will be missed by all

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2003

With the recent announcement that Andalusia High School Band Director Tommy Grimes was resigning to accept a position in Florida, shock waves resounded throughout the city as current band students, alumni and supporters wondered what was next.

Grimes, a 1971 graduate of Andalusia High School, returned to his alma mater in 1989 to rebuild one of the strongest band program traditions in the South.

He succeeded. He motivated the students. Whipped them into shape, and quite literally, scared many of them into a level of serious bandsmanship.

To many, he was a miracle worker. To others, he was just mean. To all, he was dedicated, and the ultimate professional.

Although he is departing, AHS Principal Daniel Shakespeare and Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Pete Kelley have said the search is already underway for a replacement.

That's a good sign. A replacement will have big shoes to fill, but all is not lost for the program.

Yes, Grimes did rebuild a program from just over 80 students into a powerhouse band with more than 130, but he did more than that. He instilled pride in his students. Pride that led to dedication, high musical and academic standards and above all, a sense of caring and wanting to perform to your best abilities.

The loss is hard to take. A native son, leaving for a better job. And no one can fault anyone for that.

But, a band program is not one person. It's not the band director. It's not the band parents. It's the band students and the band director and the band parents.

We have no doubt the AHS Band will continue in the fine tradition set forth by Grimes and his predecessors. To see how this can happen, simply look northward to Clanton.

The Chilton County High School Band has been without a band director for months, yet the band students took it upon themselves to get together and plan rehearsals, select music and develop a drill for the annual Peach Festival Parade.

If the situation so merited, Grimes has taught his students well enough to organize themselves into a cohesive unit, ready for performance. It's a situation Grimes had prepared his students for over the past decade. The quality of musicianship and the dedication of his students will win over any adverse situation thrown at them.

There are dedicated band parents, band alumni and current students all willing to step forward and fill the slack to the best of their abilities until a replacement is found.

Yes, Grimes will be missed. The appreciation this city, school and his former students and band parents have for him cannot be expressed in mere words, but because of his teaching and work ethics instilled in the Bulldog Band, the band will play on.