Perry retires as music director

Published 2:28 am Saturday, May 23, 2009

After more than 27 years in teaching music at Demopolis High School and Demopolis Middle School, and directing those schools’ choirs to annual appearances at state competitions, Arletha Perry is retiring from the Demopolis City Schools system.

“I walked into Demopolis City Schools in 1982, and I have enjoyed it ever since,” she said.

Perry, a 1976 graduate of Demopolis High School, listed state competitions, Christmas concerts and “being a part of a great system” as the highlights to her tenure as a teacher in Demopolis.

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“I’ve had several choirs make it to state competitions,” she said, “but this year was a very unique year. I had children who didn’t think they were going to do it, and with determination, work and work, they did it. They were determined.”

During a farewell luncheon at the high school on Thursday, several teachers and administrators were able to bid her farewell.

“Miss Perry has been a part of our choral program, and a real leader in our arts program,” said DHS principal Dr. Isaac Espy.

“She has created a place for our students to showcase their talents. She has provided me with a lot of great personal memories. When you go to one of Miss Perry’s concerts, when you walk out, you know you’ve been to a concert! It stays with you.

“She has touched the lives of so many students here. She is one of those people who can’t be replaced.”

On Aug. 15, Perry will marry Reuben Sparks of Tuscaloosa, and they will move to Panama City, Fla., where she hopes to get back into teaching.

“Reuben is a colonel in the Air Force, and he will be stationed at Kendall Air Force Base down there,” she said.

Perry has a daughter, Monae, and two grandchildren, Nigel and Cameron.

“They live in Birmingham, but I will be visiting them,” she said. “Panama City is only five hours away, and I will get a chance to see them every other weekend.”

Perry has taught more than a generation of students in music and the arts in Demopolis. Like Espy said, someone will fill her position, but she will not be replaced.