Former Pratt resident Steve Eubank retires after 37 years teaching choral music.
Steve Eubank missed his 50th Pratt High School class reunion last weekend in Pratt, but it wasn’t because he didn’t want to be there. Eubank was conducting one last concert at Topeka High School,where his storied career as a high school choral director was coming to an end. His current and former students gathered to honor his 37 years on the job, and he couldn’t miss that.
Former students of Eubank’s flew in from across the nation to rehearse Saturday morning and afternoon in the school’s choir room, then celebrate his legacy by performing an evening concert in the school auditorium.
The gathering drew 140 Madrigals alumni from New York, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado and Kansas.
“It’s just great that all these folks made all this effort to come,” said Eubank, a member of the Kansas Music Educators Hall of Fame who has been Topeka High’s choral director from 1976 to 1985 and from 1991 until this year.
“It’s just wonderful to think about the legacy that Topeka High music has, and that I was able to be a part of it,” he said.
Madrigals alumni Matthew Reynolds and Kalen Stockton, both of Lawrence, recalled how Eubank instilled in them a passion for music.
Stockton described Eubank as a “force of nature” who sometimes used well-intentioned shouting to try to get the best out of his students.
Reynolds said, “A lot of people don’t know this, but he was a football coach, and I think that’s part of the reason why choir at Topeka High got so good, because the same type of discipline that he taught football with is how he taught choir.”
Stockton chipped in: “We weren’t directed. We were coached.”
Reynolds said Eubank also had an endearing side, which prompted his students to know him as “Papa Eubank.”
“He taught us about so much more than music,” Reynolds said. “He taught us about life.”
The Pratt native attended school at Haskins Elementary, Liberty Middle School and Pratt High School. His love for music started at a young age and was nourished through his years in the Pratt School system. When he was a student at Haskins Elementary, a teacher took him to hear a high school choir concert and that tripped a trigger that started him on his music path.
“I wish I could thank her. She was an amazing lady. She took a squirrelly little kid to a concert. She was an angel,” Eubank said. “It set the stage for my career.”
Helen Farmer was the music teacher at LMS and the youth choir director at the First United Methodist Church. She taught him discipline that furthered his love of music.
“It was wonderful. I loved singing. She was very nurturing and she was very stern,” Eubank said. “She taught me discipline that was necessary.”
In high school, it was Floyd Carpenter who started Eubank’s serious interest in music.
“I was inspired by Floyd. Floyd exposed us to such great music,” Eubank said. “Floyd Carpenter made a lot of great music.”
Eubank is the son of Marie Eubank and the late Lawrence Eubank. His retirement plans are not known.