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Judith Stutts, center, in red, poses with the music students with their new instruments.   Photo by Larry Penkava / Randolph Hub

Christmas comes early for AHS band members

ASHEBORO — “Santa Claus came and goes by the name of Judith Stutts.”


That’s how Phil Homiller, Asheboro High School director of bands, introduced Stutts to nine members of the band along with their parents on Dec. 19 in the band room. 


After he provided information about Stutts’ connection with AHS — she was head majorette with the band and the first female student body president, graduating in 1961 — he said she wanted to give a “small token to thank you.” He then asked the students to leave the room until called upon.


Homiller revealed to the parents that Stutts wanted to give each of the nine a new instrument to keep as their own. He called the students in individually and Stutts showed each of them an instrument case for them to open. They were then told it was theirs to keep.


When they had all received their gifts, Stutts said to them, “Take care of yourselves and take care of your instruments. I would love to one day hear you play.”


Homiller told the students that he tried to pick musicians who he believed were going to continue playing after leaving high school. “If you ever stop, bring your instrument back to the high school,” he said. The gift from Stutts, he added, includes funding for private music lessons. “It’s an incredible gift with no strings attached.”


Stutts, who still lives in Asheboro, said she “miss(es) going to concerts and the theater. I was riding by the school and saw the drum section practicing outside. I sat and listened. Then I called Mr. Homiller and said I’d like to do something and I wanted it to be a surprise. He picked the students.”


That was in early November and Homiller said he chose the 12 students based on talent, commitment and character. He also negotiated with the company the school buys instruments from and “got a good discount. She wrote the check directly to them. These are special instruments and the students know that.”


Stutts said of the students,  “I think they’re wonderful. It truly is a pleasure to do this. It brings a lot of joy and memories from a long time ago.”


Said Homiller, “I’ve been in teaching 31 years and I’ve never seen or heard anything like this before. She’s a true angel.”