'A no-brainer': Trumbull school board backs plan to name band room for late Peter Horton

'Pete was an inspiration'

Photo of Amanda Cuda

TRUMBULL — In the four years Amy Lafond spent as a student of Peter Horton, she never stopped being in awe of him.

Horton, who died in July, was the director of Trumbull High School's Golden Eagle Marching Band. He taught music for 30 years until his retirement in 2020. In that time, he influenced countless students, including Lafond, who was a student of his from 1989 to 1993. She also served as a drum major in the band from 1991 to 1993.

Lafond said, when Horton conducted, it was as though his hands were creating music out of thin air.

"Pete was an inspiration," she said. "Watching him conduct was the reason why I became a music teacher. It’s like having a superpower."

Lafond was part of a committee that met recently to discuss naming the band room at Trumbull High School after Horton. She and other committee members spoke at Tuesday's Trumbull Board of Education meeting and presented their findings.

All who spoke talked about Horton's enthusiasm for music, including current band student Lianna Weaver. Weaver, who is also Horton's granddaughter, said she remembers watching Horton work when she was an elementary or middle school student who parked outside the band room, waiting for Horton to finish up.

"I saw him constantly working with (the students), constantly teaching them," she said. "I saw his passion." 

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Susan Iwanicki explained that the committee had come up with three potential names for the band room: "The Peter G. Horton Band Room, Pride – Attitude – Concentration 'From the Heart'"; "The Peter G. Horton Band Room 'From the Heart!' Pride – Attitude – Concentration"; "The Peter G. Horton Band Room 'Play From the Heart!'"

All the potential names incorporated some version of phrases Horton commonly used.

Board of Education chair Lucinda Timpanelli said, given that Horton was such a beloved figure in the community, naming the band room for him was "a no-brainer."

"I worked with Peter," she said. "He was a good man, always a good man."

Timpanelli said her preference for the room name was the "Play From the Heart" option, as that's the expression she most associated with him. 

Ultimately, that option was the one that got the most support from the board, with five members for it.

Board member Jackie Norcel asked if the words "Pride – Attitude – Concentration" could be added to that name, and Lafond said it's something the committee would consider, and bring their thought back to the board.

Eventually, the board voted to recommend naming the room "The Peter G. Horton Band Room 'Play From the Heart!' " and adding the words  "Pride – Attitude – Concentration."

In her presentation, Lafond emphasized that renaming the room for Horton was important given the impact he had.

"I just hope that, 30 years from now, I have a student who will get up and speak about me the way I’ve heard so many people speak about Pete," she said.