Monday, July 4, 2011

Kenneth Thompson Remembered as Strong Band Teacher

Mr. Kenneth Thompson was remembered as a strong community leader and band director who always wanted the best out of his students. He was honored as well as Glenn Miller, who got his start playing musical instruments in Worth County at the Lonny Lynn Orchestra Concert Saturday.
“Kenneth was a good band director and civil leader,” said John Andrews to the Sheridan Express. “He started a lot of programs both in the school and community. He started the band boosters club and got the whole community involved in supporting the band.” Thompson would go out of his way to bring stuff to Worth County; he would show people technology before it became commonplace, for instance. Andrews said that Thompson saw himself as a teacher both inside and outside the classroom and knew a lot of different topics. For instance, he started a housing program for the community in which the students would build houses to sell to residents. And his bands would routinely place first at band competitions around the area, a standard that is still being followed today.
Some former students talked about the impact that Mr. Thompson had. For instance, Carolyn Hardy said that Kenneth Thompson helped her husband, David, progress to the level where he could play in the Northwest Concert Band.
Another student, Dwayne McClellan, said that Mr. Thompson was demanding in a good way. “He always made sure you did it right,” he said. “His goal was to always have the best band yet.”

Scott Houk, a student of Mr. Thompson’s, said that he remembered Thompson for his ability to put together good musicals for the school. “We had a lot of fun with those and he was very creative in his approach,” said Houk. “A lot of the things he did were ahead of his time.”
Both Judy Houk and Bev Ruckman said that Mr. Thompson always had a way of getting you to want to do better. For instance, he would have the band march to the Square and back -- you didn’t just go to the square, you marched. He would always get together jazz bands for community events as well; they would typically play openers before the main event. “He got everything out of you and everybody wanted to join,” they said. “He taught whatever you needed to know.” Students were given responsibilities as well; for instance, Houk was expected to keep everyone else in line and count off the steps for the rest of the band to follow.
Craig McNeese, who went out for band from grades 5 to 12, said that Thompson was very disciplined in his approach. “We expected to win every contest that we entered in,” he said. “He had a unique way of having you do things like spins and turns that we did.”

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