OHS welcomes new band director Neil Sasser
By Anna-Claire Terry
As Neil Sasser takes the reins of the Opelika High School Marching Band as the new director, he and his family are happy to settle into a city with such a “rich band tradition.”
According to Sasser, once he became involved in his middle school band, he quickly realized he wanted to make a career of it. A graduate of the University of South Alabama and a former graduate assistant to the Auburn University Marching Band, Sasser took his talents to school systems in Mobile and Baldwin counties before he and his wife Carrie made the move to Opelika.
“My wife and I have always liked this area,” he said. “I’ve been teaching for 17 years, and since my wife and I attended church in Opelika while we were in college, this was one of the areas we had talked about wanting to settle down and retire in.”
Sasser has two children who are also finding their niches in their new city: Grant, an OHS freshman band member and Madeline, a sixth grade home schooled student.
When he isn’t teaching band classes, it will be Sasser’s responsibility to oversee everything band-related. He has had no problem connecting with everyone at OHS. He praised his cooperative students and the supportive administration.
“I really thought I would get more resistance from the kids because anytime you come in as the new guy, you get ‘well, we used to do things this way or that way,’ and I haven’t experienced any of that,” he said.
Sasser said he most enjoys concert season and being outdoors during football game performances in the fall. He has various goals for the band including eventual performances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. His sights are also set on increasing membership numbers from 200 to about 250.
Tradition is something Sasser values, and he said he plans to keep all of the OHS Marching Band traditions alive.