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Rusty Courson, ABA President                                 
Rusty Courson


As I write this after our 2014 All-State Festival last week, in reflection I am very thankful to be associated with an organization dedicated to the continued success of our students. After all, this has to be the primary purpose of doing what we do. I’m sure that all of you feel the same way that I feel. We are all blessed to have the opportunity to work with the BEST students in our school and community!!!

While I’m thankful for all of the outstanding band students that we have throughout the State of Alabama that are to be commended for a great performance this past Saturday, we were blessed to have tremendous clinicians willing to work with our students as well. Dr. Linda Moorhouse (Red Band), Samuel Hazo (White Band), Dr. Mark Walker (Blue Band), and Linda Gammon (Middle School Band) did a remarkable job rehearsing our students as they prepared for the culminating concert. Our band hosts are also to be commended for going above and beyond in assisting our clinicians with anything they need: James Ed Champion, Damon McAllister, Heather Henson, and Connie Hammond.

Thanks so much to the directors in District I that provided percussion equipment (and there were several special requests regarding percussion needs from our clinicians this year). A very special thanks to Keith Anderson for coordinating all percussion needs, and thanks to all of those directors that managed to get everything moved to the Von Braun Center for rehearsals, in addition to moving everything to the arena for the Saturday Concert. Directors and their respective schools providing percussion equipment included: Keith Anderson and Stuart Tankesley (James Clemens HS); David Spencer (Huntsville HS); Jennifer Ragsdale, Adam Bernick, and Any Kruspe (Randolph School), and Robbie Stout (Decatur HS).

We were fortunate to have the use of First Baptist Church in Huntsville for our chair placement auditions. The staff and volunteers at FBC – Huntsville were incredibly gracious and accommodating to our directors and students for the past two years, and we owe a very special thanks to Emily Parker for coordinating this for us.

FBC-Huntsville also provided an outstanding venue for our host night concert this year, which was provided by the UAH Wind Ensemble (conducted by Dr. David Ragsdale) and the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band (conducted by CW4 Jessie Pascua). Those in attendance (and it was a packed house) were treated to a TREMENDOUS concert!!! Dr. Ragsdale and the music faculty at UAH are also to be commended for hosting the state solo festival again this year. If you’ve never attended this event, you should try to make arrangements to be in attendance for the finals performance next year!!! There are also so many others to thank, including everyone on the ABA Board…especially our district chairs and vice-chairs. They are truly the workhorses of ABA, and our organization could not function without all of the hard work they provided throughout the year. A very special thanks to those transitioning off the board (is that a collective sigh of relief I hear?:-): District II – David McDaniel; Dennis Carroll – District IV; and Lori Hart – District VIII.

Honestly, I never realized exactly what was involved in the administration of Audition Manager until I moved into an executive board position a few years ago. Like most of you most likely, I just assumed that the district chairs reported results and Audition Manger took care of everything else. I can assure you that this is NOT the case!!! Doug Farris has taken on this responsibility since we started using Audition Manager several years ago…and has never asked for anything (other than following the registration guidelines that must be utilized:-). I personally owe Doug a major debt of gratitude for all of his hard work. The next time you see him, please show your appreciation as well.

David Raney is also to be commended for all of his work as we transition to our new “all-in-one” website regarding contact information and event registration at www.abafest.com. You can expect other features to be located here for the 2014-15 school year. David graciously agreed to be our liaison between ABA and Dorian Business Systems, who is building the website for us. I know nothing at all about writing code, but I’m glad that we have someone on board that does, who is also one of us and understands how we need this process to function to better serve our directors.

For the next two years (2015 and 2016) we will return to Mobile as they host our all-state festival. The board has proposals on the table for 2017 and 2018 from Montgomery and Huntsville. We will be making a site visit to Montgomery in June and the ABA Board will make a final decision at our Summer Convention.

Speaking of Summer Convention, hopefully you’re making plans to attend this year. This event is very laid back, and gives directors an opportunity to earn some professional development credit at an outstanding venue. The ABA Board and the music selection committee will meet on Tuesday, June 24th, and the general membership will gather on Wednesday, June 25th and Thursday, June 26th. I haven’t finalized the schedule yet, but I’ve had some outstanding clinic proposals, so I know you’ll want to be there. I’m sure that some of you will appreciate an opportunity to enjoy some beach time and play a little golf as well!!! The registration form is on the front page of the ABA website, as well as information regarding the convention hotel, which is the Hampton Inn and Suites in Orange Beach again this year. Don’t forget, if you get your registration postmarked to Harry McAfee by May 30th there is a $20.00 discount…so send it in now!!!

If you ever have a question or concern, please feel free to contact me at courson.rusty@lee.k12.al.us, or call my cell at (706) 289-4721.

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