Marching Into The Hill

Words By Cheryl Pangborn

Richmond Hill has a unique reputation for launching wonderful and talented people into the world and happily welcoming them back to their original roots. Meet Stephen Hendricks, Director of Bands at Richmond Hill High School. Stephen attended Richmond Hill schools beginning in kindergarten all the way through twelfth grade, graduating from RHHS in 2002. His musical talent would take him on a 21-year journey before finally bringing him back to The Hill to become part of the very fabric that made him. Since the beginning of the 2023 school year, Mr. Hendricks, as the students refer to him, has been leading the show from the director’s tower, and says he is right where he always knew he wanted to beMM. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to advance the program to new heights while developing the young people of our community,” says Hendricks.

A music career which began with a trumpet in the fifth grade, eventually lead to Stephen playing the tuba in the high school marching band. His talents took him to the University of Georgia, while he continued writing the high school marching band shows long distance. In 2008 he was able to briefly return to The Hill as an assistant band director for the high school before continuing his education. Hendricks went on to get his Masters Degree from Florida State University and continued his career in various schools for the next 12 years in and around Atlanta. Throughout each of those chapters in life, coming and going from The Hill, Hendricks says he always knew eventually he would come back for good to the only place he called home.

With vast experience in teaching and performing as a professional musician, Hendricks set himself up to be a genuine asset to the high school. He says he is focused on his ultimate goal, creating lifelong excellence in young people in an intensely strong band program that serves and enhances the community! “I’m really excited to be able to give back to my hometown,” he says. “I don’t want this program to be limited to school events, I want our band to use its platform to participate in and create events throughout the Richmond Hill community.

I want these kids to have life changing experiences they take with them after they graduate. Ultimately, I want them to walk away better, happier, more successful people as a result of being in the band.” Part of the plan is to unify the high school and middle school band programs into a true sixth through twelfth grade unit, or as he puts it, “one big, all-encompassing band program!” Mr. Hendricks says “We have incredibly talented directors in Dr. Emery Warnock, Rebecca Maish and Kevin Britt. Creating one unified program will give our students the best experience possible,”

One of the exciting undertakings Hendricks and his musicians have initiated thus far is a marching band competition that they hosted on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at RHHS. The South Georgia Marching Band Championships hosted ten bands from around Georgia with approximately 1,100 students on our campus. Georgia Southern University got wind of the competition and brought their marching band to perform as well! “It was an amazing day and a definite learning opportunity for all of the young performers,” Hendricks says. “It wasn’t just about a competition, but also students being able to get inspiring feedback from the judges that spurs these young people towards excellence.” For Hendricks this was just the beginning of what he hopes will be a new and exciting year for his students.

With anticipation for the remainder of the school year ahead, Mr. Hendricks is anxious to showcase this band throughout Richmond Hill and hopes each performer will invest in the fabric of what Richmond Hill is made of, community.

Keep an eye out for this talented group and their leader as they march their way into the heart of The Hill.