Schoolhouse rock

Middle school principal shares musical abilities


Parker Nolan

Willow Springs principal Kent Messer sings and plays guitar outside during the middle school lunches two to three times a year.

Izzy Valenzuela, Staff Reporter

Kent Messer is known for being the principal at Willow Springs Middle School, but what many people don’t know is that his past is largely affected by music. His students get to peek into his former life as a musician during lunches.

“My father was a musician so I grew up listening to a lot music,” Messer said. “He introduced me to the Beatles, Eagles, and Rolling Stones music. I have always enjoyed music and began taking guitar lessons when I was fourteen.”

His interest in music started at a young age, but developed in high school when he joined a band with his teammates.

“In high school a few of my friends started a band called The Infield,” Messer said. “We were all baseball players and played infield positions. There was also a famous band out at the time called the Outfield so we thought it would be cool to be the Infield.

“We played in our high school “Battle of the Bands” and that was about it.  Between high school and when I was hired in Lovejoy in 2006, I did not play in any bands.  For the past five years, Mr. Winkler (current SCIS principal and former LHS assistant principal) have started a band in Lovejoy called Friday Night School.  We perform at school district functions and community events.”

Many previous students are envious of the current middle school classes for their moments with Mr. Messer.

“I think we were really lucky to have had a principal who cared about us enough to spend his time singing for us during lunches,” freshman Emma White said. “I don’t think many other schools get opportunities like this which makes our district stand out. I definitely miss having these fun outdoor lunches with my friends.

Messer believes that all staff should share how positively diverse they are with their students.

“As part of the Graduate Profile of being “well rounded,” I think it is important for staff to model ways that they are well-rounded for students,” Messer said. “I also want to encourage other young guitarists to get up and perform in front of their peers.  This is not an easy thing to do for middle or high school students; most are very nervous. I want to model and provide opportunities for guitarists to perform.”

Current students are grateful for all of the aspects these outdoor lunches offer.

“I love that we can sit outside during lunch because it’s a nice break from sitting in a classroom all day. It’s really fun to see other teachers open up and join in,” eighth grade student Zoe Finch said.

These musical lunches originated as an interesting way to get people involved, but quickly became regular as his singing gained supporters.

“It started as part of Red Ribbon Week in 2006 as a fun way to “sing out against drugs.”  Over the past 10 years it has evolved into 2-3 lunch performances,” Messer said. “I am always looking for groups or programs to provide lunch time entertainment.  I think it is a great way for students and staff so showcase their talents and have a little fun.”