Band, choir teacher Richard Philbrook to retire at end of year

Music teacher Richard Philbrook directs the choir on February 13. Philbrook is retiring at the end of the year after 43 years in education. Photo by Kendyl Bolinder

Music teacher Richard Philbrook has announced his plans to retire at the end of this school year.

Philbrook has taught 5-12th grade at Wabaunsee for 11 years, but has been teaching band and choir for a total of 43 years. His favorite thing about Wabaunsee is the students, and the special bond he’s formed with them over the years.

“That’s not just the requisite answer. That is truly how I feel. I have never taught where, top to bottom, the students were as kind, considerate and respectful as they are here. You guys are just nice people, seriously. So many of my colleagues never got to experience people like you, and I feel sorry for them,” Philbrook.

“He’s very dedicated to music. I’ll miss his stories,” junior baritone player Brendan Dugger said.

“I’ve had him since fifth grade. It’s going to be weird adapting to someone else’s teaching style,” junior trumpeter Falish Willier said.

WHS principal Jan Hutley and WJH principal Steve Oliver are interviewing candidates to fill Philbrook’s position.

After his retirement, Philbrook plans to travel and spend more time with his family, and will occasionally step in as a substitute teacher as needed. He will continue performing in professional music groups.

— Kendyl Bolinder, @Bolinderkendyl

Former music teacher saves Christmas concert

Former music teacher Sue Yocum directs freshman Sarah Vanstory and the high school choir prior to the winter concert December 17. Yocum took over for Richard Philbrook, who was sick that day. “I was kind of worried, but I knew Mrs. Yocum was a really good teacher. I forgot words at one point in rehearsal, but I felt comfortable with her,” Vanstory said. Photo by Sean Dugger.

Music students perform despite teacher’s illness

A Christmas miracle was needed to keep the winter concert on schedule.

Richard Philbrook, the 5-12 band and choir teacher, fell ill over the weekend preceding the annual Winter Concert December 17. The students in the music program came to school that Monday planning to finalize preparations for the concert, but it was in danger of being cancelled without a director. Former elementary music teacher Sue Yocum volunteered to become the director, but only had a day to work with all of the students.

Yocum had to quickly work with students to see if holding the concert was still feasible.

No other days were available to reschedule due to the impending winter break. With only one class period to practice with the all of the students, the decision to continue without any changes to the performances was made, including performing two solos in the choir’s ‘White Christmas’ and the tempo difficult piece of the band’s ‘Three Minute Nutcracker’.

“Not knowing the tempos or the cues for the students in the pieces made it difficult,” Yocum said. “I enjoyed it, there was almost less stress than one I prepared myself.”

Behind the curtains, secretary Jeanne Parry put in a lot of work in the logistics side of the concert with things like contacting the correct people for help and making the many programs to be passed out.

“We just didn’t want to disappoint everyone who would have to travel or the seniors and their last Christmas concert,” Parry said.

Despite the illness and the inability for Philbrook to attend, the concert was performed on time and received well by the audience. “I thought it was really good, everybody played and sang their best even though Philbrook was gone,” junior Luke Stuhlsatz said.

“I was impressed, proud, and not surprised with how well the students responded,” principal Jan Hutley said.

Known for not missing any concerts before, Philbrook was disappointed to have to miss his first one due to being sick, but was proud of how the students performed.

“The concert would not have happened without the tenacity of Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Yocum, and all of the students who were willing to work with someone they hadn’t,” Philbrook said.

— Sean Dugger, @seandugger01

Students prepare for winter choir, band concerts

Emma Alderman, Tara Quintanilla, Bernice Poulter, Gabby Simmons and Kimi Buchanan sing during choir practice at WHS. The choir performs December 17 in the auditorium. Photo by Abby Oliver.

Concerts to feature Christmas classics

As Wabaunsee students prepare for winter concerts, one teacher is directing his first winter concert, while another is preparing for his last.

Maple Hill Elementary performs Tuesday in Maple Hill and Alma performs Thursday in the WHS auditorium. Both shows begin at 7 p.m.

Elementary music teacher Peter Ruby likes the challenge of directing young students.

“Young students definitely enjoy to wiggle when singing, but their enthusiasm is contagious. It’s apparent they love what they are doing and I am very excited for them to show their parents what they are capable of,” Ruby said.

The students will perform a selection of Christmas songs, including  “Christmas Makes me Sing,” “A Gift for Santa,” “Bubble Wra,”, “Simple Gifts” and “Little Drummer Boy.”

“I have challenged the students, especially 4th grade, with difficult music and they have risen to the challenge,” Ruby said. “I’m proud of their hard work and determination, especially their perseverance through struggles.”

DSC_7635
First grade students from Alma Elementary practice for the winter concert Tuesday afternoon in the WHS Auditorium. Photo by Sarah Vanstory and Hannah Ratts.

Wabaunsee Middle and High school teacher Richard Philbrook is preparing for his last Christmas concert before retirement.

“They will perform everything from traditional, like Carol of The Bells, to some modern-sounding arrangements with some new songs. A wide variety, from old favorites, traditional, to modern.” Philbrook said. “They’re working very hard, starting with the logistics, and fine tuning a couple of notes.”

— Jayna Keller, @whscharger

Choir prepares for Fall Concert

Kendyl Bolinder, @BolinderKendyl

WHS band and choir are prepping for the first concert of the school year, 7 p.m. tonight in the WHS auditorium.

The choir will perform “What About Us,” by P!nk, “What the World Needs Now is Love,” by Jackie DeShannon, and more. The main focus of the choir portion of the concert is to draw attention to the diversity in society today. Every song the choir will be singing is meant to get the audience thinking about what is good, or conversely, what is not so good in the world. “The world needs less hate and more love,” director Richard Philbrook said.

The band will perform directly after the choir. It will play several upbeat pep band songs, including arrangements of “Burn,” by Ellie Goulding, “Shut Up and Dance,” by WALK THE MOON and “Great Balls of Fire,” by Jerry Lee Lewis. The band has rehearsed these songs all year, and performed many during home football games.

“I really enjoyed learning all the songs we played this quarter, and we worked really hard on them,” sophomore Bernice Poulter said.

“We’re just gonna have fun and be the high school equivalent of a rock and roll band,” Philbrook said.

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