Band of Teachers

By: Garrett Mock

At Homer-Center High School, there is a small tradition that is unknown to the outside of Indiana County. It is a holiday tradition that has occured for the past several years, but it is one that students and faculty look forward to before the luxurious Christmas break. It isn’t cooking baking, movie watching, or even the competitive ping-pong tournament that benefits the Teddy Bear fund drive that makes every student battle against each other for a special engraved paddle.

This tradition, is called a Homer-Center band.

The band was originally created by teachers Mark Butler, a math teacher, and two recently retired teachers, Lou Stepanik and Mark Shopland. These three teachers began the band to kick off the Christmas spirit with covers of classic Christmas songs, from Elvis Presley to Bing Crosby.

“When I first arrived at Homer-Center,” said Mr. Butler, “I noticed that, during the assembly, that there was a man on stage, singing these old Elvis Presley songs. The following year, I spoke to Lou Stepanik, and I expressed my interest in assisting him that year, because I play the guitar, and following that meeting, we added Mr. Shopland to that mixture, and it just started to snowball after that.”

More recently, with Stepanik and Shopland retired, the band has expanded and added more members to their ranks; several years ago, the band added science teacher Anthony Buffone, and within the last two years, history teacher Stephen Hall and mathematics teacher Jordan Alsop have entered the festive tradition. The band has even included several students, with seniors Christopher Ober and Tyler Sprankle joining last year to add more instruments, guitars and percussion, respectively.

“After some years,” Mr. Butler added, “whenever Mr. Stepanik was teaching, he heard the loud, booming voice of a science teacher across the hall, entertaining his students with a loud singing voice. That teacher was Mr. Buffone, and Stepanik extended his invitation to our little band, to which Buffone accepted.

“After those two retired, we were looking for new members to join the band, and it so happened that was the year that Mr. Alsop came to Homer-Center. I was informed that he could play the guitar and could sing, so I took interest and found common ground with him quickly, and along with Mr. Hall, that is where we currently are today.”

The students love the day before the break, and look forward to the band performing before dismissal.

“I look forward to them playing each year,” said senior Austin McAdams. “It’s always fun to see them perform, and it’s a great way to start off our Christmas break and amplify the Christmas spirit.”

“It’s great to see our teachers have fun and do something besides teach us,” added senior Sean Patterson. “I love it, and I think the entire student body loves it, too.”

Towards the end of the performance, the band always asks the rest of the teachers to send the students off with the always joyful, beloved “We Wish you a Merry Christmas”, and it is a great way to show camaraderie between the faculty. The students look forward to the band, and the band looks forward to performing for the student body and the other faculty members, and spreading around the Christmas spirit at Homer-Center.

The students and faculty also wish to send their regards and want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday!