Longtime Bands of America adjudicator Bruce Burritt began his career as an elementary band director before becoming a high school band director in the West Genesee (NY) Central Schools in 1964. Under his direction, the marching band, symphonic band, and wind ensemble thrived for the next 16 years. As District Supervisor of Music, beginning in 1968, he spearheaded the growth of not only the band program, but also orchestra and chorus. He credits his success to a supportive administration and community.
In 1982, he made the leap to the administrative side of education. He served as assistant principal, high school principal, and finally superintendent of schools before his retirement in 1998 from the Avon School District in New York.
Despite his retirement, his influence continues to reverberate across the nation. Every five years, a call goes out to West Genesee alumni. They converge back on their hometown over Memorial Day weekend to reminisce, rehearse, and perform in the Memorial Day Parade. In 2016, 643 West Genesee High School band alumni converged to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of their first competition by organizing what they believe to be the largest high school alumni performance ever. The alumni band was a quarter-mile long—nearly four and a half football fields in length.
“We’ve had wonderful memories and not so wonderful memories,” said Burritt. “That’s what life is. Each year, you come back. You keep going. Now we have a history and a legacy. That’s incredible.”
When asked for advice for his former students, he replied, “Always believe in yourself and what you can do. And no matter how tough it gets, never give up. Absolutely never give up.”