One of the state's top high school band directors announced Monday he will retire at the end of the school year.
Bill Kellett, 54, director of the Papillion-La Vista South High band for 11 years, has taught music 33 years.
Kellett said several factors influenced his decision, including the opportunity to take part in the district's voluntary separation program, the success of the music program this year and a strong junior class that will aid with transition to a new director.
“If just felt like it was the right time,” he said. “I'm certainly not retiring completely from the workforce. I'm too young to do that, but from teaching and education I am.”
Over his career, Kellett directed students in two presidential inauguration parades and traveled to London with his students to march in the 2000 millennium celebration. He directed his marching band at Disney World and took numerous trips with students to perform at a variety of college bowl games. His marching bands consistently earned superior ratings at local and regional contests.
The marching Titans ranked sixth in the state the past two years at the annual Nebraska State Bandmasters Association marching contest.
The marching band brought back an armful of trophies from this year's Valero Alamo Bowl, including the grand champion award.
“Bill inspires students to do their very best,” Titan principal Jeff Johnson said.
Kellett started teaching music in the O'Neill Public Schools. He came to the Papillion-La Vista district in 1987 as an instrumental music teacher at La Vista Junior High School and assistant band director Papillion-La Vista High School. After one year at the junior high, he moved to Papillion-La Vista High full time as the instrumental music teacher and band director. Fifteen years later, in the fall of 2003, Kellett moved to the new Titan high.
His wife, Andrea, who has directed the Titan guard and legion units, also will be turning that duty over to someone else.
“It's the right time,” she said. “There's passages in life, and this is one of those big ones for us. I'm enjoying being a grandma. Our kids are grown up. And our lives are going in kind of a different direction.”