PHS band director moving to Helena HighPublished 11:01am Friday, December 20, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Longtime Pelham High School Director of Bands Jeff Burnside will be Helena High School’s first band director when the school opens its doors in August 2014.
The Shelby County Board of Education approved the move during a Dec. 19 meeting, during which the board also approved Kim Bailey as the HHS lead counselor and Watt Parker as the head football coach and athletic director.
During a Dec. 20 interview, Burnside said he is excited about the challenge of building a band program from the ground up.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Burnside said. “It’s going to be a neat challenge to build the program from nothing.”
Burnside is no stranger to school splits, as his first year as the PHS band director was the first year after the PHS-Oak Mountain High School split in 1999. Before coming to PHS in 1999, Burnside worked with the band program at Homewood Middle School.
“The Shelby County School System as a whole is supportive of the arts. That’s what makes it so great,” Burnside said.
Currently, PHS includes students from Pelham and Helena, which will make Burnside’s first year at HHS a smooth transition, he said.
“There are a good number of kids who are in the (Pelham) band now that will be at Helena next year,” Burnside said. “I think we will continue to see a connection between the bands. There will be a lot of camaraderie there.”
Burnside said the Pelham and Helena communities both have been working to prepare for the school split for “a few years,” and said he will be available to help the PHS administration in the search for a new band director.
Once at Helena, Burnside said he is planning to continue the band’s involvement in the community.
“I am looking forward to getting a line of recruitment established all the way down to the elementary school,” Burnside said. “I want to get the community involved in what the band is doing, and I want to get the band involved in what the community is doing.
“And when school starts in the fall, I want both bands (at PHS and HHS) to be equipped to be the best they can be,” Burnside added.