Archived Story

Marching Hundred alumni looking to honor Ikard

Published 6:03am Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Tri-State Kudzu Klassic Marching Festival held in Russellville each year is only two weeks away and while this is a special event each year for those in the marching band community, this year will be particularly special for Russellville Marching Hundred alumni from years past.
This year during the Kudzu Klassic, a reception will be held in honor of former Marching Hundred band director Curtis Ikard, who oversaw the band and show choir programs at RHS from 1957 to 1987.
The reception coincides with the unveiling of the new “Curtis Ikard Challenge Cup,” which is an award that will be given in honor of Ikard at this year’s Kudzu Klassic and at each competition from here forward, and the Curtis Ikard Performing Arts Scholarship.
Current RHS Marching Hundred band director Gary McNutt, who is in his 21st year with the band program, said when he was first approached about naming an award at the Kudzu Klassic after Ikard, he was immediately on board.
“I thought that it was a great idea to honor his legacy here at Russellville with an award that recognizes the best band at the competition,” McNutt said.
“Before, the Kudzu Klassic was more of a festival atmosphere with no clear-cut ‘winners,’ but this year we decided to move it back to a competition format and the Curtis Ikard Challenge Cup will represent the grand champion or overall winner of the competition.”
The reception, the scholarship and the new award are the results of efforts by several former band students who wanted to see their beloved band director receive the recognition he rightly deserves.
Trent Stephenson, one of the event’s organizers, said he first got the idea for an honorary award after attending the Kudzu Klassic a couple of years ago and noticing their were no awards in Ikard’s honor, but he didn’t act on the idea until he decided to visit Ikard at his Florence residence this past summer.
“When I was at his house, another former student, Shannon Scruggs O’Neal, stopped by to tell him that she had nominated him for the Alabama Music Educators Hall of Fame,” Stephenson said.
“We began talking and we both knew we had to do something for him. He is the one who helped build a lot of the tradition that the band here has and he had a great impact on a lot of our lives.”
There are many former band students who feel the same way as Stephenson does.
One of those is Marlaina Gladney Stein, who was a majorette in the Marching Hundred from 1970 to 1975. She said she remembers Ikard as being “tough but effective” when it came to how he handled his students.
“A lot of people will tell you Mr. Ikard was tough on his students, and he was sometimes, but he wanted to make sure we were living up to our potential and doing the very best we could,” Stein said.
“I loved rehearsals and I loved performing, and I really feel like I learned a lot about life by having Mr. Ikard as a teacher.”
Ikard has been informed about the plans for the reception and the new award and he said he is humbled by all the efforts to honor him.
“We had a lot of great times through the years when I was at Russellville,” Ikard said. “There were many special students that came through and who went on to do great things.
“[The reception] is something I am really looking forward to. I haven’t seen many of them in a long time.”
Ikard’s former students and those who knew him or worked with him are invited to gather for the reception at the RHS cafeteria from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. while the Kudzu Klassic is taking place on Saturday, Sept. 29.
Following the reception, the Curtis Ikard Challenge Cup and the Curtis Ikard Performing Arts Scholarship will both be presented by Ikard himself during the awards ceremony, which normally begins at 8:30 p.m.
For alumni who cannot make it to the reception but would still like to donate to the scholarship fund, checks can be mailed to Russellville High School Band, c/o Curtis Ikard Scholarship Fund – Account #8026, 1865 Waterloo Rd., Russellville, AL 35653. All donations are tax deductible.
For more information about the reception or the efforts to honor Ikard, visit www.facebook.com/CurtisIkardPerformingArtsScholarship.

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