Destin Middle School band director Courtney Noe has been an important part of her students' lives for five years. Past and present students thanked her for her commitment by giving her a surprise ceremony at a recent concert.

After five years as the Destin Middle School band director, Courtney Noe conducted her last Spring Concert with her students on Thursday.

Noe, who grew up in Destin, got the news that her husband will be stationed in Manfredonia, Italy, and plans to move in September.

“I’m going to miss my students the most because they let me push them as much as I wanted to and take them to musical places no one has ever taken them before,” Noe said after the concert at the school’s gym.

Noe said she was able to teach her students to play music middle school students shouldn’t be able to accomplish.

“The eight graders started with me when they were in the fifth grade. It was really a four year project to get them to this point,” she said.

The school band program decided to surprise Noe and send her off with a big bang by inviting former students, who joined the band from the crowd and performed “Anchors Aweigh,” the marching song of the U.S. Navy.

“That was very touching… I love my kids and try to keep up with them,” Noe said.

Reminiscing on the last four years, eight grader Lizzy Wasson said she was really going to miss Noe’s teachings and how she taught her how to be a confident musician.

“I found out how much I love music and if it wasn’t for her, I would of never known that,” Wasson said. “She taught us life lessons and not just music.”

Fellow classmate Clara Brown agreed.

“She taught me how to be a great musician and not give up on what I really want to do,” she said.

Noe said she wants to encourage parents to let their children play with a musical instrument as early as the second grade and when they do get to middle school, they can have the opportunity to join the band or choir.

“This can really help them built confidence and be part of a team,” she said. “Music is above all good for the brain and for the heart.”