By Andrew Edwards
Elmore/Autauga News Staff Writer
The Stanhope Elmore High School Band is preparing to move locations for the first time since the school was built in 1965.
Construction on the 9,311-square-foot music complex began back in September of 2020, and is anticipated to be completed before the start of the 2021 school year.
But what’s really exciting people, like SEHS Band/Chorus Director Wesley Morris, are the changes that will come with the new building – like a laundry room, upgraded instrument room, and, of course, a much larger space for the students to play their music.
“So many students walk these halls every day, so the thought of them getting to utilize this new space is really exciting. It was an upgrade that we needed,” Morris said.
The new room, which is approximately 1000 square feet larger than the current facility, is crucial to the way that band will practice for performances.
“The space we have right now is so small that players in the back can’t hear what people in the front are playing because the sound is so encompassing,” Morris said. “Now, with the new space, that sound is going to have more room to spread out, and the students will be able to accurately hear what the person next to them is playing.”
The physical space is not the only thing that’s being upgraded this year, as the band is set to be outfitted with new uniforms for the first time in 15 years. The funding, which eclipsed $36,000 for the uniforms, was provided by the band’s booster organization, Parent’s In-Tune, and through various fundraisers and events.
“It’s a pride thing for the students to be able to go out and look good. When they put on these new uniforms and walk through the halls of the new building – it’s going to be a phenomenal sight to see,” Morris said.
As for graduating seniors, Morris said that he’s had to remind them that the new facility is more than just one existing class.
“There’s always seniors that may have to fundraise for something and never get to use it. That’s just kind of how it works, though. You pay your dues forward and build on dreams for the next class of students,” Morris said.
Not only will the new complex provide new resources to the band, it will also have separate space for the SEHS choir, and a room dedicated to piano lessons.
The current space that the band room resides in is planned to undergo full renovations this summer, and the theater program is expected to utilize that area moving forward.
Likewise, the band’s storage room will be renovated and the school’s art studio is expected to move into the current space.
Flooring on the new music complex is expected to begin next Monday, while ceiling tiles are expected to be installed later that week.
The band was recently awarded superior ratings for their second year in a row through the Alabama Band Masters Association, a feat that Morris said is extraordinarily impressive, given the circumstances of the past year.
“In a normal year it’s great to achieve an accomplishment like this, but for a season like we had this past year – its even greater. You’re constantly having to deal with contract tracing, and wondering if a student is going to be available, so I think getting superior ratings when all the turmoil was going around is really a testament to the kids,” Morris said.