Toot the horn for band honor

Drew Etheredge

Pauls Valley's school bands have received some big honors over the years, but their leader got one of his own at a recent event.

It only seems fitting Drew Etheredge and a number of Panther band students were at a district honor band clinic and concert when it was announced Etheredge has been named director of the year for this region of the state.

The award comes from the East Central Oklahoma Band Directors Association (ECOBDA) as 45 band directors in a fairly large area voted to give the honor to Etheredge.

One announcement about Etheredge's new award came from Nick Noble, who's currently serving as the president of the ECOBDA and is the band director for Dale schools.

“Mr. Etheredge is obviously doing a tremendous job, and I wanted to convey that his hard work is being recognized by his peers,” Noble said in a statement released this week to Pauls Valley school officials.

“Drew is well respected, and his bands perform at a high level and have done so for many years.”

Also quick to toot the horn for Etheredge is his assistant, Hannah Wilson, who believes an honor like this one is long overdue.

“I'm proud of him,” Wilson tells the PV Democrat. “I think he's finally received the recognition he deserves.

“He's basically built this program into what it is today. He's done an incredible job with this program.”

Wilson has worked as the band program's assistant for the last three years coming to Pauls Valley after graduating from Oklahoma Baptist University.

“He hired me straight out of college,” she said, referring to Etheredge.

“It was an easy choice coming to a program like the one in Pauls Valley and I haven't felt the need to leave.”

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As for this regional director of the year honor, Etheredge says it was a complete surprise to him during an all-district concert event in Ada back on Jan. 25.

“I was backstage helping to set up the different groups,” Etheredge said this week.

“Hannah told me to come with her up front and we were standing off to the side of the stage. The association president was talking to the audience when he made the announcement.

“I was definitely very surprised. It's not something you expect from your peers. It meant a lot to me; it's definitely very special to me.”

In a bio put together by Wilson she points out Etheredge, now in his 15th year of teaching band in Pauls Valley, is a second generation educator with both of his parents having numerous years of experience in the field of education.

He followed specifically in his father’s footsteps, Bill Etheredge, to become a band director. He grew up playing trumpet in Ardmore and graduated from Ardmore High School before going on to pursue music education at the University of Oklahoma.

Since then Etheredge has led a number of successful ensembles in Pauls Valley, including jazz band, basketball band, marching band and concert band.

His Panther bands have received the title of Oklahoma State Fair Band Grand Champions five years in a row.

It's been eight straight years the PV band has received superior ratings at a regional marching band contest and nine consecutive years for top marks at a district concert band contest.

The PV band has advanced to the state contest each of the last nine years.

Topping it all off is Etheredge has four Sweepstakes bands during his time here, which means much the same as a state championship for a sports team.

Etheredge is quick to stress all these accomplishments are not just about him.

“This is not a one-man thing but a lot of hard work from students and parents. And I have Hannah, who's great at her job,” he said.

“What I do out here takes all of us. It takes teamwork to make it work.”

On a daily basis, Etheredge sees students ages fifth grade through 12th grade and “teaches each class with heart and great skill.”

Etheredge was the 2013-2014 teacher of the year at PV High School and the entire Pauls Valley School District.

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