In March, former band director Rob James retired. He started out as the middle school and high school band teacher. When Keith Kovalic retired from the position in June 2019, James took over his position as the Big Red Marching Band Director. Kovalic worked for Freedom from 1992-2019. James had the position since 2019, and put on two years of shows on Friday nights. The two shows were Panic! At The Disco and The Avengers. The students and fans loved these shows.
James studied at Carnegie Mellon University, receiving his music education. He started working at Freedom in 2004. He worked for the district for a total of 17 years.
“Mr. James and the class were super close, it felt like family,” junior Elizabeth Michele said.
Students will miss him and their memories together, like Sheetz runs or his sarcastic jokes. Many still look forward to seeing what the new year will bring. Also, several students wait for the Friday night halftime show to come out.
Students welcome Emily Rickard to replace James. Rickard will be taking the band director position in fall 2021. She is currently the elementary school music teacher. She attended Penn State for music education and also studied at Duquesne university for her master’s degree in music performance. She teaches general music from kindergarten to eighth grade. Rickard previously worked at Avonworth with their marching band.
Rickard is very blessed to take on the new job and work with the high school students.
“I’m so excited, It’s been a really awesome year working down here with the young students in K-4th. I’m just super excited to continue that with instrumental music,” Rickard said.
She is also looking forward to so many opportunities within her new position. She is excited to get to know more about what the high school marching band is like. Rickard also plans to see all the traditions students have made and hopefully make new ones in the future.
Rickard is excited to get sneak peaks of what it is like to be the band director here at Freedom in these coming weeks.
“I think it’ll be good having someone who doesn’t know any of us, kind of like a fresh start. We all loved Mr. James but I’m excited for a new face. I hope she falls into the same role as Mr. James did and we feel like a family. I think she’s going to have some really good ideas for us,” Michele said.
Currently Walker Martz is taking up the job to finish out the school year as the band director. He has been the assistant band director for the past two years.