Teachers win with rock and roll


Gracen Rivera

Performing “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, Bruce Yost plays his guitar along with fellow co-workers Jan. 31 at Faculty Idol in the auditorium. Yost’s band “Lockdown” won the contest.

Graham Hill, Opinions Editor

“It was really strange,” senior Hamilton Reese said. “Seeing my chorus teacher, Latin teacher and semantics teacher all up on the stage, playing guitar and singing.” 

The band, composed of chorus director Bruce Yost, Latin teacher John Henson and semantics and AP English teacher John DeOrio, won the Faculty Idol competition Jan 31. Some of the other acts included officer Mark Holloway – winner of last year’s competition – who performed Stevie Wonder, media specialist Matthew Penn reciting slam poems with students, and English teacher Kristina Renaud tap dancing with her son, Rhett. 

“I have a whole newfound respect for people who perform,” DeOrio said. “Public speaking is one thing, but having to perform takes it to a different level.”  

The idea originated with Henson and Yost, who both grew up in musical families and went on to perform separately in Tampa during the ‘80s. Henson’s band formed when a group of friends from around the neighborhood began playing together.  

“I must have been younger than 16 because I couldn’t drive to our first gig,” Henson said. “[That was] frightening. It was a legit biker bar.” 

The two mainly performed rock and roll in their own groups, so, although they had played on the same bill several times in their performing careers, Yost and Henson did not recognize each other immediately when they began teaching at the same school.  

“We didn’t recognize each other when we were here,” Yost said. “Something triggered my memory and I said ‘That’s where I know that guy!’ When this Faculty Idol thing came up, it was kind of a light bulb that went off in both of our heads … that we should try to put something together for that.” 

From there, the two set about creating the band. 

“We were like ‘We’ve got to get together and do something,’” Henson said. “Just jam or whatever and that’s … how Lockdown came about.” 

Henson and Yost initially talked to coach Bo Puckett about being the drummer in the band, but a rotator cuff injury he had sustained earlier prevented him. However, he and DeOrio had played together recreationally before, and he referred Henson and Yost to him as a guitarist for the band.  

“We’ve played together a couple times,” Puckett said. “It’s a lot of fun.” 

Like the others, DeOrio also was raised in a musical family but only learned the guitar later in life.  

“I started playing guitar more in college for fun as a hobby to keep me distracted,” DeOrio said. “[I] just fell in love with it and kept playing guitar.” 

With the three teachers assembled and joined by a friend of Henson’s, Joey Larson, brought in for drums, the band was formed. The name “Lockdown” was chosen. 

“We tossed around a lot of different names,” Yost said. “Probably a couple of days before the show, we had a big campus security meeting all about lockdowns … and it had a good rock and roll sound to it.” 

The planning for the performance was quick and, after choosing to perform “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, practicing began.  

“We actually only practiced twice. We played and were like ‘This sounds good, this might actually work.’” DeOrio said. “It was pretty wild to go from never playing together to within a couple of hours we were able to mesh pretty well.” 

For the veteran performers of Lockdown, taking the stage the day of the performance felt just like old times.  

“I felt like I was sent back to 1989 or something, it was weird,” Henson said. “Just playing some dive bar.” 

DeOrio though had never performed in front of a crowd before.  

“It was a little nerve-racking … all the fears play out of never playing before,” DeOrio said. ¨It caught me off guard, I wasn’t expecting it. Right beforehand it kind of hit me.” 

Lockdown was the opening act for Faculty Idol, but after that, Yost had to leave to attend a chorus event. When Lockdown was voted by audience applause as the winner of the competition, he heard about it over the phone.  

“I got this text from my wife that said ‘Lockdown wins,’ and I thought she was just goofing me, I didn’t think that was even possible,” Yost said. “I thought ‘Oh sure, whatever,’ and then I got a text from Mr. Henson … and then DeOrio. My phone started to light up.” 

With their first victory behind them, Lockdown has plans to continue. 

“We’re definitely going to play again,” Henson said. “If for no other reason, we’ll be more prepared for next year.”