A special award of
The John Philip Sousa
Gordon Manley, Northside High School Director of Bands has served as a band director in Arkansas for thirty-two years. He has also held the same position in Waldron, Charleston, County Line, and Kimmons Junior High in Fort Smith. Manley, the 1998 UMI State and Regional Distinguished Band Director of the Year, has served as an adjudicator and clinician in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Mississippi. His professional affiliations include Phi Beta Mu, Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association, the Arkansas Bandmasters Association, and the Texas Bandmasters Association. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Arkansas Tech University in 1986 and earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Arkansas in 1992. He and his wife, Ramsey Junior High School principal Amy make their home in Fort Smith.
The Bandworld Legion of Honor was established in 1989 to honor, over the course of a year, eight of the finest band directors in our business.
Recipients have taught for at least fifteen years, have maintained a very high-quality concert band program, and have contributed significantly to the profession through dedication to bands and band music.
Each is honored at the annual Sousa Foundation awards ceremony during the Midwest Band Clinic in Chicago, Illinois.
Chairman of the Legion of Honor Committee is Terry Austin, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Northside High School is one of two Fort Smith, Arkansas public high schools serving students in grades 10, 11, and 12. With a student population of approximately 1,700 and a free/reduced rate of 82 percent, Northside students represent a snapshot of U.S. demography; 23 percent are Caucasian, 49 percent are Hispanic, 15 percent are African American, 7 percent are Asian American, 4.5 percent are two or more, and 1.5 percent are Native American. 130 certified staff members, 40 classified staff members, and 5 administrators serve Northside High School, one of the most diverse schools in the nation.
A staple in the Fort Smith arts community with over 60 public performances a year, the Northside High School Band is made up of 216 students who participate in the Grizzly Marching Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Jazz Band, and numerous other ensembles. Over the years, these bands have distinguished themselves with outstanding performances and have developed a reputation of excellence throughout this region of the nation. The band has performed for at least five United States Presidents, including marching in President Eisenhower’s 1957 inauguration parade. NHS is also represented by individual students who distinguish themselves in all region and all state band competitions, including over 300 Arkansas all-state band musicians over the last 25 years. Northside band alumni have studied music at some of the most prestigious music schools in the world, including Berklee College of Music, NYU, and The Juilliard School. The Northside Band has won awards for “Overall Best Band” at contests in Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Saint Louis, and the band was chosen through competitive audition to perform at the 2008 International AdvancED Conference in Chicago. Most recently, a documentary of the band entitled “Leaving a Legacy” won “Best Documentary” at the 2017 Fayetteville Film Festival. You can view it free on YouTube.
While these accolades are important as benchmarks, the underlying philosophy of the program ensures that all students are given the opportunity to foster a love of music in a nurturing environment surrounded by caring adults. As such, the Northside Band program emphasizes high expectations and concentrates on the needs of the individual student.