Final Spring Concerts for Three Longtime Music Educators, Starting with James M. Bennett High’s C. Benton Reavis on Wednesday, May 11
It will be the end of an era when C. Benton “Ben” Reavis walks onstage to direct the spring concert of the James M. Bennett High Concert Choir and Intermediate Choir on Wednesday, May 11. The longtime choral director has announced his retirement after 47 years as a music educator, 43 of those years at James M. Bennett High.
In 43 years at JMB Mr. Reavis has taught chorus, drama and musical theater; directed plays and musicals; and performed in JMB’s Rock & Roll Revival. Mr. Reavis is so integral a part of the history of JMB that in 1978 he even wrote the words and music for the school’s Alma Mater. This school song is sung at special events including commencement and chorus concerts, one-time events like the groundbreaking for and rededication of the new James M. Bennett High, and in high-school’s much viewed “lip dub” video of May 2015.
Current and former students and colleagues from his 43 years at JMB are invited to Wednesday’s concert to enjoy the Intermediate and Concert choirs and to join in singing the Alma Mater to close the concert.
The James M. Bennett High Intermediate and Concert Choirs will present a spring program on “100 Years of Broadway” Wednesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. in the James M. Bennett Auditorium. It’s going to be a great program, with music from more than 35 different Broadway musicals from the early 1900s to 2015. Various sections of the program will feature specific composers like Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Steven Sondheim. Also included will be the Concert Choir’s selections from the 2016 Eastern Shore Senior Choral Festival. Admission is free. For information please call 410-677-5141.
“I’ve always enjoyed music and school. I could never imagine myself ‘out of school’ so I guess that’s why I became a teacher,” Mr. Reavis said. “I will miss the friendships of my colleagues and the spark in the eyes of the students when something ‘catches’ and they realize their potential. I’ve seen many a fine young person grow into an even more outstanding adult.
“It’s been fun to see the second generation of students come through the choir and drama programs. I hope I’ve not damaged anyone too much and have perhaps at least led them to an appreciation of music whether as performer or audience member.”
Mr. Reavis is not the only longtime music educator retiring from Wicomico Schools at the end of this school year. Bennett Middle’s Krista Perdue will lead the 6th and 7th grade chorus in one last spring concert on Tuesday, May 17 at 7 p.m., in the James M. Bennett Auditorium. Admission is $2. 410-677-5140. Mrs. Perdue has taught chorus at Bennett Middle School for 37 years.
Bennett Middle Band Director Gary Hammer will wrap up his 39-year career with one last Bennett Middle Spring Band Concert on Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. This concert for all BMS band students will take place in the Bennett Middle cafeteria, and seating is extremely limited. Hammer began his career as the James M. Bennett High band director in 1977, then became band director at Bennett Junior/Bennett Middle in 1989.
All three teachers are focused right now on helping their students have a great finish to the school year, though they’re aware that retirement is not too many weeks away. “I have no definite plan right now for retirement,” Mr. Reavis said. “I do have to get through ‘Mary Poppins’ with the Community Players of Salisbury in late June (he’s playing George Banks), and then figure out what I’m going to do with 47 years of materials. Then, I’m sure I’ll be around. Who knows? I might even become a substitute!”