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Photo by Sarah Finnegan.
New band director Perry Lawley looks on during a Chelsea High School band practice.
Christine Sexton’s son is just a rising sixth-grader, but the new high school band director already has made quite an impression on them.
“In the mail last month, he received a letter from Mr. Lawley introducing himself and telling my son how excited he is about him being a part of the band,” Sexton said of new Chelsea High School Band Director Perry Lawley.
In the letter, Lawley offered encouragement for her son and told him that he, too, had chosen to be in band at his age.
“It was one of the best decisions of my life,” Lawley wrote. “Band is a great activity. You will make friends and memories that will last you your whole life.”
It was a kind letter, and Sexton said she was impressed with Lawley’s investment in the middle school band members.
“The letter was individualized — it included my son’s name and referenced the instrument he is playing,” she said. “This meant a lot that in the overwhelming task of beginning a new job at a new school that he thought of and took the time to do this. It is classy, meaningful and so appreciated.”
Coming from roles where he directed both middle school and high school bands, Lawley has seen firsthand the importance of building a band program from the beginning.
He taught at Pinson Valley High School and Rudd Middle School for four years before moving in fall 2008 to teach at the middle school and high school in the town where he grew up — Montevallo.
Now just down the road at Chelsea, Lawley said he “is looking forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that has been instilled in the band program for so long.”
The “tremendous amount” of pride and history in the Chelsea band program makes the band a special group, he said.
“The ins and outs and daily logistics of the program run so smoothly, which is a testament to both students and parents and their expectations. The Chelsea band is the embodiment of Hornet Pride,” Lawley said.
The students work hard and take pride in what they do, he said.
“I want to help facilitate that pride and tradition and hopeto fully achieve new heights,” Lawley said.
That means growing in size and quality. The students are “fantastic” and put effort into achieving their goals for the day and their long-term goals as a band, he said.
So far, Lawley said his transition to Chelsea High School has been “phenomenal.”
“The students and parents have been overly welcoming and open to new ideas and changes,” he said. “I could not have envisioned a better change of hands. The previous director, Dane Lawley, has been very willing and available to help me with all my questions, and the parents have worked with tremendous energy to make everything happen.”