SALT LAKE CITY — It was knee-deep in the 2015 legislative session when a group of school district superintendents were feeling stressed.
“We were in the middle of the legislative session, it’s awful,” said Kodey Hughes, Juab School District superintendent and drummer. “We needed some downtime and so we started playing music.”
They came up with half a dozen songs to play along to, Hughes said. This led to even more songs they could play together. This led to the formation of “The Superintendents of Rock”.
“With the theme, ‘Stick to the Man,'” jokes Steve Carlsen, Box Elder School District Principal and guitarist. “The only problem is that we’re kind of ‘The Man!'”
Superintendents come from all over the state. They’ve grown in recent years to include teachers, principals, and even some family members, and they’ve renamed themselves “The Superintendents of Rock+.”
“It’s really fun. For me, it’s the relationships that we have, the friendships that I’ve made here,” said Gregory Thornock, the superintendent of the Tintic school district who plays bass. “It was a good relaxation in my first 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, offered his auditorium as a practice space. He is also part of the band and plays several instruments.
Rock+ superintendents focus on classic hits. They played ball games and conferences. Recently, they performed at the Salt Palace for First Lady Abby Cox’s “Show Up for Teachers” event. The band got a lot of backlash, said guitarist and Jordan School District Superintendent Anthony Godfrey.
“Kind of like when a kid sees his teacher at the grocery store and can’t believe he exists outside of school,” he said. “Seeing us in anything other than a costume and playing rock ‘n’ roll baffles them.”
Steve Carlsen said that when they started playing he saw some “have a smile on their face and people start nodding”.
Members of the group say they like to encourage students to pursue musical and artistic studies at school and are open to the idea of including more teachers and directors in the group. It became a great stress release and bonding experience.
“You can see this side where there’s so much administrative stuff and political stuff that you have to deal with,” Kip Carlsen said. “And we kind of reunite and I don’t know if wind is the right word, but break free and have fun. It’s a great opportunity to show everyone, hey, we’re just like everyone else and we know how to have a good time too.”