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When members of the Leesville Road High School band returned to class after a long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they learned that band director Christopher Serina had abruptly resigned. His office was already cleaned out.
Serina stepped down for personal reasons Jan. 18, according to Mike Charbonneau, a spokesman for Wake County schools.
Serina was hired away from Garner High School in June 2011 to replace David S. Albert, who founded Leesville’s band program and was the director for nearly two decades.
The school’s principal, A.J. Mutillo, said in a letter to parents that Albert will take over as substitute director while the school transitions “to hire an interim or permanent band director.”
“We are fortunate to welcome him back, and I am confident he will be able to help our students improve as musicians,” Mutillo said in the letter.
Angela Williams, who has a student in the band, said stability is exactly what is needed as the band prepares for its first overseas trip in less than a year. The North Raleigh school accepted an invitation last fall to perform in the 2014 London New Year’s Day Parade.
“I’d always known we were good, but I didn’t realize that we were considered good on an international level,” said Ethan Kratt, a tuba-playing sophomore, when he found out in October.
Since then, the band has been preparing for the performance and raising money to pay for the trip with the help of parents who run the booster club.
Amy Perkins, whose son, Tommy, is a junior trumpeter, is leading efforts to make sure all of the 80-something students are able to attend. She said the cost works out to about $3,200 per student.
They have held bake sales, and a group of students made and sold winter scarves. Students regularly work games at PNC Arena, and a group yard sale and golf tournament are being planned.
“We’ve been doing our best, looking for new and different ways to get money, and we have committees going out looking for corporate sponsors,” Perkins said.
Serina’s quick and quiet departure is jarring but not enough to derail the trip, she said.
“The students weren’t told anything, the board wasn’t told anything,” Perkins said. “Sometimes in your life you won’t know the answer to things. ... We just have to move on and get all the final payments by November.”