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The Aarhuses

Former THS director now at MSU

By Michael Butler

Craig Aarhus was director of the Pride of Tallassee from 1998-2000. He is now an Associate Director of Bands at Mississippi State. He moved to Starkville in 2003.

"The things you enjoy about teaching at the college level are the same at the high school level," Aarhus said. "The students I deal with now are legally, technically adults. A lot of the things are similar. We try to prepare shows to entertain crowds. We try to support athletics and be involved in our community.

The Famous Maroon Band has 330 students from 15 states. And yes, band members do have cowbells in addition to other instruments like the trumpet and trombone.

"Everybody in the band has their own cowbell. The cowbell is a treasured heirloom in many cases. We do use them in our pregame show to get the crowd going."

Aarhus says the environment is unmatched for a home game at Davis-Wade Stadium.

"It is deafening. It is the loudest place I've ever been. I've been wearing earplugs for several years now."

Last year's game vs. Auburn was as loud as Aarhus can remember. Auburn is his alma mater.

"I have a lot of loyalties to Auburn," he said. "I always come back to something my graduate professor taught me. He said, 'Craig, you must always cheer with your paycheck.' There are 364 days out of the year that I still bleed orange and blue."

Aarhus (third from left) in Tallassee for a tribute to Ed Watkins in 2012

The Sylacauga native will make the trip back to Auburn in September.

"It's a big reunion. We have very close ties in the state Alabama, particularly Auburn."

He also keeps up with his Tallassee friends. In 2012, Aarhus returned to J. E. "Hot" O'Brien for a tribute to Ed Watkins.

"I was such a small part of the history of the band compared to the legacy of Mr. Watkins," Aarhus noted. "It was really neat to be a part of that and see the new stadium and how things have changed. We still keep up with a lot of folks. Jerry Cunningham was such a mentor to me professionally and personally. I got to see him. Don and Ann Bryant were very good friends and mentors to my wife and me as a young married couple."

Aarhus and his wife Amy now have two children; Jack (7) and Molly Kate (5).

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