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Meet the Utah school superintendents who formed a rock band

Posted at 4:07 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 20:06:48-04

SALT LAKE CITY — It was knee-deep in the 2015 legislative session when a group of school district superintendents were feeling stressed out.

"We were in the middle of the legislative session, this is awful," said Kodey Hughes, the superintendent of the Juab School District and a drummer. "We needed some downtime and so we just started playing music."

They came up with about a half-dozen songs to jam to, Hughes said. That led to even more songs they could play together. It led to the formation of "The Superintendents of Rock."

"With the theme, 'Sticking it to The Man,'" jokes Steve Carlsen, the superintendent of the Box Elder School District and a guitarist. "The only problem is, we kind of are 'The Man!'"

The superintendents come from all over the state. They've grown in recent years to include teachers, principals, and even some of their family members, and they have renamed themselves "The Superintendents of Rock +."

"This is really fun. For me it’s the connections that we have, the friendships I’ve made here," said Gregory Thornock, the superintendent of the Tintic School District who plays the bass. "It’s been a good easing into my first few years as a superintendent."

They meet to jam whenever they are in the same area for meetings. Kip Carlsen, the principal of Spring Lane Elementary, has offered his auditorium as a practice space. He also is a part of the band, playing a number of instruments.

The Superintendents of Rock+ focus on classic hits. They've played ball games and conferences. Recently, they played at the Salt Palace for First Lady Abby Cox's "Show Up for Teachers" event. The band gets quite the reaction, said guitarist and Jordan School District Superintendent Anthony Godfrey.

"Kind of like when a kid sees their teacher in the grocery store and they can’t believe they exist outside the school," he said. "Seeing us in something other than a suit and playing rock and roll throws them off guard."

Steve Carlsen said when they start playing, he's watched some "get a smile on their face and people start bobbing their heads."

Members of the band say they love to encourage students to pursue music and arts education in school and they're open to including more teachers and principals in the band. It's become a great stress release and a bonding experience.

"You get to see that side where there’s so much administrative stuff and the political stuff you get to deal with," said Kip Carlsen. "And we get to kind of get together and I don’t know if vent is the right word, but release and have fun. This is a great opportunity to show everybody, hey we’re just like everybody else and we know how to have a good time as well."