Cory Simpson (Class of 2004) came to Indian Rocks Christian School as a preschool student. Fourteen years later, he walked across the stage and received his high school diploma. He became yet another IRCS “lifer”.
When I asked Cory how his time at IRCS prepared him for college, his answer was not what I was expecting to hear. He said, “The biggest way that IRCS helped prepare me for college was in pointing me towards Christ. It took a few years (well, maybe more than a few), but by my senior year I had a firm foundation of beliefs to stand on when I started college.”
So the next question for Cory was if he have the chance to go on any mission trips while he was in high school. He said, “Mini-mester was just getting started during my high school years, so the only activity I did during high school was a service project with Habitat for Humanity. After I graduated, however, I was able to join several other faculty and help lead the first trip to Thailand back in 2007. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget!”
When asked about a favorite memory from high school Cory replied, “My favorite memory is not of one specific event, but the collected memories from my time in band program. To this day, most of my best friends are people who I was in band with while at IRCS. The experiences we all had together, especially in marching band, are some of the most treasured memories in my entire life.” When asked about a teacher that impacted his life, it tied into his favorite memories. “There were two teachers who made a massive impact on my life. The first was Mr. Lemler, the Band Director at IRCS when I started band in 4th grade. He taught me how to read music and play the saxophone, but more importantly he taught me how to be a better person. Mr. Lemler loved each one of his students and urged us to strive for excellence in and out of the classroom. He took a chance on me as a 7th grader and invited me to be a member of the Golden Eagle Regiment marching band. This fundamentally changed the course of my life for the better and I am forever grateful to him for the lessons he taught me and the patience he showed in dealing with the younger version of me that may have struggled with self-control from time to time (ok, maybe all the time).
The second was Mr. Howard, the Band Director at IRCS during my sophomore and junior years. Mr. Howard came in to rescue a band program that had been struggling since the departure of Mr. Lemler, and boy did he ever. The marching band placed 2nd and 3rd at state championships the two years that Mr. Howard taught at IRCS, and these years were where many of the deepest bonds were made among our band family. During this time Mr. Howard introduced me to Drum Corps International and encouraged me to audition for a group in central Florida. I ended up marching five years of drum corps and winning a world championships with The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps in 2006. Mr. Howard even allowed another student and me, who had marched drum corps, to teach marching fundamentals to the band. This set me on the path towards becoming an educator. He was the funniest and most talented teacher I have ever had, and a huge inspiration when deciding what career I would pursue after graduation.
So how did he get to where he is today? “After graduating in 2004, the Band Director position at IRCS became vacant at the beginning of the spring 2005 semester. I was a freshman in college at the time, and Mr. Banse contacted me about teaching several band classes because they were unable to find a full time teacher on such short notice. I accepted and began teaching 5th-12th grade band while also attending SPC. After that first semester, I was in love with teaching and knew that this was the calling that God had for my life. The fact that I was able to begin my career at my alma mater was an incredible blessing that has God’s fingerprints all over it. I am now the Assistant Director of Bands at Northside Christian School where I have been teaching since 2010. One of the coolest parts of my story is that I now get to work with Mr. Howard on a regular basis as he teaches trumpet lessons at NCS and is the arranger for the Royal Ambassador Marching Band. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the road that had been prepared for me while I was at Indian Rocks, but God knew all along. I am extremely grateful to my parents for sacrificing so much to send me to IRCS, because my time there was instrumental (pun intended) in shaping me into the man I am today.”
We too, are grateful for your time here – both as a student and a staff member. We are proud that you are serving the Lord in a Christian school.