Thanks for the memories… Elliott honored for 31 years of leading ‘Betsy Band

Published 12:48 am Friday, May 14, 2021

Perry Elliott has walked onto the turf at Citizens Bank Stadium several times since it first opened replacing Brown-Childress Stadium and Dave Rider Field but the walk that he and his wife, Lizanne, took on Thursday morning will be one of the last he will take as the director of the ‘Betsy Band after leading the band to new heights in his time as the director.

The reason is that Elliott will be passing his baton over to new band director Jonathan Valentine as Elliott will retire after spending 31 years leading the band at Elizabethton High School.

With his current students sitting in the stands along with band boosters and others who gathered to pay tribute to Elliott, Elliott was presented several gifts including memory books signed by those who have sat under Elliott’s leadership and a specially made blanket out of t-shirts representing several years of the band’s programs under Elliott.

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Elliott also was given a replica of a plaque that will be placed inside the EHS Band Room in his honor and a custom-designed ring in the school’s colors and engraved with the years the band won a state championship.

“We know this is exactly what he wanted,” said EHS Principal Dr. Jon Minton in good humor knowing that Elliott doesn’t like the fanfare. “I would like to say personally Mr. Elliott it has been a pleasure getting to work with you the last couple of years.

“Your commitment and your name are legendary in what you have done for the high school and when I got hired here it was awesome to know that even for one year which eventually turned into two by the end of this year, it has always been good to talk to you and get some wisdom because of your experience.

“You have always been willing to listen and very receptive to new ideas or just letting me know when feedback is needed and also giving me direction as a young administrator,” Dr, Minton continued. “I appreciate everything that you have done for me and for our administrative team and teachers. You always tell us what we need to hear and tell us the truth which is very important.

Some of the accomplishments of Elliott and the ‘Betsy Band under Elliott’s leadership include:
– 4-time Tennessee Division II State Champion for marching band.
– 3-time Bands of America Regional Finalists and Class Champion.
– 10-time winner of Tennessee Bandmaster Sweepstakes Award.
– Elizabethton City School’s Teacher of the Year.
– Multiple Superior Ratings at Concert Festival.
– 4 commendations from Elizabethton City Schools for Elliott’s work.
– 2021 Induction into the ASBDA (American School Band Director’s Association).
– Top ’50’ Directors Who Make a Difference.
– Recipient of the National Band Association “Citation of Excellence” for contributions to the instrumental Music Profession.
– Served on the Board of Directors for the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association.

Elliott became emotional when he shared with the audience about the support he has received especially from his family to do what he has in all the years he has been the band director.

“I think everybody knows that you can’t do anything unless you have the support of your family,” Elliott shared. ” I want to thank Lizanne for all of her help and all of her work and all that she has sacrificed.

“I want to make sure you guys understand that as you go through life, your friends and your family are going to be the ones to help you do what you want to do.

“I have gotten to do what I wanted to do because she has helped me.”

Elliott also took the time to offer thanks to those who have come alongside to assist him with the band and added a special thanks to Chris Lockhart, the band director at T.A. Dugger Jr. High who helps to prepare middle school students for the high school band.

“You can’t have a good band without a good feeder program. Let me ask you how many had Mr. Lockhard at T.A. Dugger,” Elliott asked as almost every single hand was raised.

“Point made,” Elliott stated.