LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Eric Rooke

Position: Director of Bands
School: Williston High School
School District: Williston Public School District #1
City, State: Williston, ND

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Eric Rooke was nominated by his colleague, Peter Frankman.

Mr. Rooke has transformed music and the performing arts, not only at Williston High School, but throughout the community of Williston as a whole. Last year, his work with the WHS Wind Ensemble was named the Governor’s Band of North Dakota. They were given the opportunity to perform in the Capitol Building for Governor Doug Burgum, State Senators, and State Legislators. Frankman was fortunate enough to travel with the group and see their performance live.

According to Frankman, Mr. Rooke pulled the students aside before the show and said, "Remember this. You are the Governor’s Band of North Dakota. That means you are the best band in the state this year. Remember this performance and go out there and play like it.”

Mr. Rooke's personal relationships with his students are unmatched. He shares an office with a former student who followed in his footsteps, and is now the newest music teacher at WHS. Mr. Rooke doesn’t reserve his nurturing nature only for those who want the same career, however. Whether it’s someone who wants to pursue a career in the performing arts, someone struggling in their performances, or someone who knows music is not in their future, Mr. Rooke always trades in his own free time to help.

The changes Mr. Rooke has brought about are evident throughout the school. Just this year, WHS had over 100 students involved with some aspect of producing "The Music Man," something Mr. Rooke, as the Drama Club advisor and musical director, was in charge of. In only four shows, they had 1,358 audience members attend and applaud the shows. The changes with student involvement in the arts have trickled down, as well. The popular demand for musical education has caused District #1 to offer a 100+ student band to the 6th graders at Bakken Elementary School.

What might be the best example of Mr. Rooke’s dedication happened November 26-29, 2017, the week of his nomination. A senior flutist at Williston High School performed in Orlando, FL as part of the 2017 All-National Honor Ensembles Concert Band. She was one of only two North Dakotans named to the group. Mr. Rooke flew 2,000 miles to watch her perform, sacrificing a classical Thanksgiving, to celebrate just one outstanding student.

"I could go on talking about Mr. Rooke’s excellence ad nauseam, but instead I’ll end with this: I’ve never seen a teacher make more of a difference than Mr. Rooke," Frankman said. "He truly deserves recognition."

Comments (60)

Brooklyn Haug Posted over a year ago

Hands down the best music teacher I have ever had the opportunity to work with. I have never met someone who genuinely cares about each and every one of his students and wants us to all succeed even if we don’t take on a career in music.

Karen Hart Posted over a year ago

So deserving

Karrie Tarbox Posted over a year ago

My son has Mr. Rooke for band and the privilege of working with him through drama. Mr. Rooke is his favorite music teacher ever, and he has had some great ones, because of his passion for what he does. His knowledge, patience and ability to have fun while teaching are just some of the qualities he loves about him. As I parent, his dedication is obvious. He puts in countless hours to make our music program and drama great!

Pam Peisar Posted over a year ago

Mr. ROOKE has played an enormous part of my kids lives. Beyond band, he helped my son through some very tough times as a young man who lost his father. Mr.Rooke stepped in a played a role of supporter, counselor, mentor, friend, and teacher. He honestly made a very difficult time become easier. I am very proud of my son and the man he is today. I thank God each and every day for having Mr. Rooke in his life. That friendship continues to this very day. He has taught and mentored both of my older kids and I look forward to the day that my youngest has the influence of a truly outstanding person like Mr. Rooke! I, personally, cannot thank him enough!

Brian Haaland Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke has been instrumental in shaping the lives of so many students in and around the Williston Basin. He has gained the respect of the community and it’s amazing to see how he has helped grow the band program at Williston public school #1. Well deserved.

Karen Lappi Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke was my son's music teacher while he was in high school. He impacted my son's life in so many positive ways that my son went to college for Music Education and is now teaching side by side with Mr. Rooke. So he is still impacting lives - from every musical, play and concert, Mr. Rooke makes sure that everything runs smoothly from beginning to end. I have been to many performances that he has presented to the community and have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. He definitely deserves this award.

Sarah Johnson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is a fantastic guy who really cares about his students and the community. He definitely deserves this award.

Wesley Thomas Posted over a year ago

I am in my 4th year of band and 2nd year of jazz band under the direction of Mr.Rooke. When I joined band I couldn’t play one scale, couldn’t play the simple pep band music right in front of me. Mr.Rooke has inspired me to become the person I am today. I am a state recognized musician by Minot State University, Univeristy of North Dakota, and the University of Mary. Mr.Rooke had not only helped me become a way better musician but he has taught so many life lessons, helped me deal with hard times in my life and so many hard times in my life. Mr.Rooke has been more that a teacher, he has been a mentour, a counselor, a motivator, and the most influential person in my life.

Kinzi Ferrell Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is a wonderful educator. Many students have been influenced by his teaching and mentoring. Once I returned to School District 1 as a teacher, Mr. Rooke was sure to congratulate me. It made me feel great knowing that I was able to be a peer to my former band teacher. The way he builds a personal relationship with his students was something that I carried on into my classroom. Although he was my band director, I was able to learn more than just music in his class. Having positive teachers, such as Mr. Rooke, as role models has helped to shape me into the teacher that I am today. For that, I am eternally greatful.

Anonymous Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke has changed my life. I had a rough go of it in high school and had no one until this one teacher took an interest to ask me how my day was. I had the opportunity to work very close and learn so much. He is the reason I’m going to college and he’s the reason I am where I am. He was always there and even after graduation he still cares. I cannot think of anyone else that deserves this award more.

Courtney huwe Posted over a year ago

Mr.rooke you do an awesome job on helping the kids when they don’t understand music. But you do a good job keep up the good work

Abagale Huschka Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is the band director at my high school. I have never had him as a teacher, but I went on the band and choir trip to Seattle with him. I was having trouble with migraines and got one during the trip. He took me to the Emergency Room and made sure I was okay. He got me into the hotel the next day and ensured I could stay there, even though I refused. Throughout the rest of the trip, he kept checking in on me. He then became one of my favorite teachers ever, though he’s never taught a class of mine. He definitely deserves this award; Mr. Rooke has changed my life.

John Bisbee Posted over a year ago

I'm privileged to be the former student mentioned above that now shares an office with Eric Rooke. The decision to become a music teacher was quite an easy one after being one of his students for my time in high school. I was pushed more and more each year to become involved in different aspects of the high school music program. I was able to learn and experience many different life skills while working with this extraordinary man and educator. No matter what it was, the time of the day, or if he had a bunch of work to do, he always made time for you and helped push you to become the best that you could be. While I was a student, I felt that he was one of those teachers that truly cared about what you were doing in his classroom, while still understanding that most of the ensemble may never play music again in their lives after High School. He made that personal connection with each student and it is was I am currently working towards, as I now get to see him and work alongside of him and his wife every day.

Serena Christianson Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke was my band director my senior year of high school. There had been a music teacher who retired at the school after my freshman year, leaving a hole not only in our band program, but in the community. The school district brought in an interim director as well as another teacher who simply didn't work, and then Mr. Rooke came along. I'll admit we had our doubts about him, given our inconsistent history of teachers in our high school career. Mr. Rooke, as a first year teacher, was apprehensive about his new job, rightfully so, but handled it with grace. He knew how to balance making changes and honoring the history of our band program, which I greatly admired. As first chair clarinet, I grew close with Mr. Rooke, using him as a sounding board as I navigated stresses of senior year. He took time to listen to me as well as provide advice, even buying me a book that drastically changed my interactions with friends and loved ones. He challenged me musically, inspiring me to continue raising the bar, a technique that helped me thrive as first chair clarinet for the concert band at University of Jamestown. We don't stay in touch as well as we used to, but I greatly admire what he's done to sustain the history of Williston's music program as well as improve upon it for the better. He is a lifechanger, without a doubt.

James Taverna Posted over a year ago

Eric has positively impacted the lives of countless young adults in his 13 years at Williston high school. He's grown the band program to such a high level of musicianship that's apparent every time you attend a concert, parade, or pep band performance. My time at Williston high school was more than few years ago, but I still count my time in Eric's classroom as one of the best experiences of my high school career

Chase Cook Posted over a year ago

Im a senior at Williston High School and I am very excited that someone who deserves this award so much got nominated. When I moved to Williston my freshman year, I didn't know anybody at the school, and I had no clue what I was doing or where I wanted to see myself after graduation. I wasn't a band student, choir student, or a theater kid. The only music class I had was music appreciation, because it seemed like an easy A. Because of that class and how he got to know his students on a level beyond just his classroom, I decided I wanted to be his student again and joined band, not even knowing how to read music or play my instrument. He pushed me, worked with me, and believed in me until I caught up to the rest of the band. Come two years later, and I am a stronger musician than I ever could have dreamed, with band, choir, and jazz band to go to every day. If Mr. Rooke had not come into my life, I would not have taken a leading role in a musical, grown as a musician, and would still be worried about college and my future. I have decided to attend U-Mary and follow in his footsteps to major in music education and lead a high school band of my own some day. I could not imagine my life without the impact that Mr. Rooke has made on it.

Mary Bollinger Posted over a year ago

I have known Eric all of his life. He has always been intelligent and driven to do things, and would never quit until he succeeded. Music was always his passion, and I remember him singing to me on my birthday when he was about three years old. He is a very warm and loving person, and became this because of his strong Christian upbringing by his parents, and grandparents (in his early years). I have seen Eric around his students. He is amazing! I can surely see how they love his direction, but yet, his personal and social nature when he helps them achieve success. Eric, I'm so proud of whom you have become. You have done a great job!

Shelby Arcand Posted over a year ago

Our community is so blessed to have Eric Rooke as a teacher at Williston High School. His way of teaching is easy to understand and makes each class feel as if they are not only a class, but a family. When I was in high school, Mr. Rooke was one of my "go-to" teachers. He is someone who is respected, trusted, and loved by all. There is no better man more deserving of this award. Music to Mr. Rooke is more than a career, it is a passion, and he has passed on that passion to so many. Congratulations on your nomination!

Trinity Dyer Posted over a year ago

I was never the best band student, nor was I the most talented,but Mr. Rooke taught me how to understand and appreciate music of all genres. I still find myself listening to some of the numbers we performed. I will be forever grateful for the heart and soul he put into our band and everything he did (and still does) for the high school and the community. If it weren’t for Mr. Rooke I’d have never considered playing even a small role in a musical. He talked me into being an extra in Bye Bye Birdie and it’s still, to this day, one of my favorite memories from high school. Thank you, Mr. Rooke!!

Baylee Hanson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is one of the two teachers I had for all four years of high school. (the other being his wife) I came in freshman year and was honestly a little scared of him. But over the next four years, he has become my biggest mentor in life. I was lucky enough to be a TA for him my senior year. I spent two hours a day in a band class and another two hours being an assistant. It was so much fun. I learned a lot not only about being a teacher, but about life. He is a teacher who really, truly cares about his students. He knew the instant I walked in the room if I was having a bad day, and wouldn't stop asking about it until I spilled my beans. I spent countless hours in his office, complaining, bragging, crying, laughing, you name it, but he always listened to every word. He really took an interest in my life, not only in school and music, but what happened else where too. I firmly believe that I would not be the person I am today without having him as a teacher. He really deserves this award.

Julia Christensen Posted over a year ago

From traveling to LA to getting a free scholarship to IMC, I was blessed to make countless memories with Mr. Rooke. He is one of the absolute best and most inspiring mentors I have ever gotten the opportunity to know. It excites me unconditionally to know he is finally getting the recognition he has deserved all along.

Ashley (Slade) Tescher Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke without a doubt is my favorite teacher of all time. His passion for music and teaching came through in many ways from how he conducted to make you feel every emotion in the song to his fun spirit during pep band at a basketball game! He created an atmosphere that allowed me to escape from personal issues my family had been going through. Which meant more than words can describe. Eric Rooke is more deserving of this award than he will ever know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Angela Westphal Posted over a year ago

As a freshmen in 2006, I was in one of Eric Rooke’s first classes that he saw through all 4 years (and now beyond). He was easily my favorite teacher in high school, always challenging each individual student to step out of their comfort zone and apply music to life. For example, I was an extremely shy kid, and Rooke pushed me to try out for every state-wide band audition we had the opportunity to attend. Gradually, I developed more confidence, which in turn impacted me as I went to college, having the courage to present in front of my peers and professors, and now into my adult career. He has put in so much time solely for his students outside of the classroom and typical teacher responsibilities - jazz band, jazz trips, honor band auditions, honor band weekends, small ensembles, band and choir summer trips, workshops, marching, bringing in guest performers to WHS and the community, musicals, and so much more. I was lucky enough to be in a small ensemble, Brass Quintet (BQ), and I remember how cool it was that the Rookes took us to see Canadian Brass one weekend in Bismarck. He also required us five to bring college applications as proof we were researching and starting the application process to our group practice senior year, and then allowed us to ask him questions. We were not all interested in pursuing music, which he knew, but he still took the time to mentor us, caring for our futures. He did this all with a smile on this face; his passion and excellence in teaching is evident.

Trevor Villamor Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is the best teacher that I never had the privelage of having. I didn’t have any of his classes, but I did the musicals and plays that he directed and he had a passion for it that I only wish I could’ve mirrored. He’s an amazing man, teacher, husband, and friend. I wouldn’t have gotten through a lot of stuff as smoothly as I did without him. He brought the best out of me.

Sheila Zepp Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke is an amazing teacher. The kids love him. Williston is Blessed to have him. He deserves this award. For the past 17 years, he & others have given out an award called the Evan Zepp Music Award. It is to the International Music Camp.This awesome award came about after my son Evan was killed on a snow mobile. Evan loved music, was in concert corral. Ever since, this award has been given out. Eric has kept it going all these years. He is so deserving of this wonderful award!! Thank you Eric, for all your hard work!!!!

Marti Volz Posted over a year ago

My daughter was a student of Mrs. Rooke's and tragically died in 2010. My two younger boys were both blessed to be band students of Mr. Rooke's. I know that my boys, because of Mr. Rooke's care and concern, have stayed on a successful path. Teens + grief don't always have happy outcomes, but Mr. Rooke invested himself in knowing my boys and making sure they had that extra guidance whenever needed. Our school and entire community has been changed for the better because of his actions. He deserves this recognition, as I know there are many times when he has many things he should do that are work related, and still he makes time to care for our children and community. I cannot imagine where my boys would be without Mr. Rooke.

Brendon Skor Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke has helped me decide what career I should pursue. Because of Mr. Rooke’s teaching and impact I am now majoring in Music Education in college. After college I hope I can teach my students with the same passion and love he has.

Dan Brown Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke and his students come out and support our local veterans every Memorial Day. There is always Mr. Rooke and a group of his students playing for us. We cannot thank them enough for their support each and every year.

Kaare hallesy Posted over a year ago

Mr rooke has changed my life by him giving me wonderful opportunities for whs drama club and he has in general helped me he really does deserve this he is a wonderful teacher and he is also an excellent rolemodel

Jennifer Carlstad Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on your nomination! You are more than deserving of this award!

Greg Svihl Posted over a year ago

As a teacher, former principal, coach, AD and bus driver I know when I observe a teacher who connects with kids. Mr. Rookes program of study is easily the best Williston School District has to offer. His is a model all should follow.

Joyce Posted over a year ago

I am the mother of the flutist mentioned in the nomination letter. I am so thankful for the opportunities Mr Rooke has provided to our children. Mr Rooke traverses the state (and country!) and gives generously of his time to provide the kids with numerous opportunities for competition and performance, all the time teaching an extra full slate of band classes, preparing for multiple local recitals at our new high school performance hall which he doggedly fundraised for, and generates great media buzz for the musicals he directs and supports annually and all the events the kids are a part of. Many, many thanks for his role in creating a legacy of music lovers, musicians, and a hard-working next generation.

Trevor White Posted over a year ago

Mr. Eric Rooke is hands down one of the best teachers I have ever had. He pushed me to be the best person I could be and was always ready to listen when I needed someone to talk to. He goes above and beyond with his job every single day. He helped me realize my dream of becoming a music teacher by showing me how much of an impact you can have on so many lives. I believe he truly deserves this award 100%. Not many teachers leave as big of an impact as Eric does. It's easy to say I went from not wanting to go to college to currently being enrolled at the University of Mary in Bismarck because of him. I can not thank him enough for the support he gave me through high school and still is giving me. He's always willing to help when help is needed.

Dr. Tom Porter Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke is a phenomenal music teacher. I have had the opportunity to teach his high school graduates at the college level, and to hear and work with his students many times throughout the years. Mr. Rooke is inspirational and dedicated to serving his students and the Williston community. He commits countless hours to the extras--before and after school rehearsals, trips to festivals, honor groups, and other events that enrich the lives of his students, and time to be available to talk and encourage his students as they pursue dreams in music and other areas. I highly recommend him for this award. Dr. Tom Porter Chair, Department of Music University of Mary, Bismarck, ND

Sarah Wilson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is a true inspiration to his students. When I was in high school, we all had nothing but admiration for him. He works hard, and genuinely cares for the well being of his students. If anyone deserves this, he does.

Gail Bauer Posted over a year ago

Eric started becoming a “Lifechanger” as a young boy. He grew up in a house filled with love, family, faith and music. He is honest and respectful, he is dependable but mostly Eric is a friend to everyone. Eric’s dedication to his art of music is his gift that he keeps giving. So proud of you, Eric

Chelsey G Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is an exceptional teacher and human being. He was my teacher several years ago, in fact, I was in his very first freshman class. From the beginning of that school year he strived to expand the music program at WHS. Not only did Mr. Rooke take interest in his student's musical aspirations, but he made sure to pay attention to the student's lives as well. He noticed something in me one day and took the time to ask how things were going, offer advice, and just listen. While I'm sure that added quite a bit of stress, it was so wonderful to know someone had my back. Music ensembles, drama productions, and band were always so fun with Mr. Rooke. He made a point to add some fun and laughter into each session or class period. I looked forward to each time I spent in Mr. Rooke's class because it could take my mind off the regular and not so regular stress of high school. Mr. Rooke is so deserving of this award for many reasons. His outstanding personality, his love of teaching, his exceptional expansion of the music program in Williston, and his passion for all things music. It's difficult to write about Mr. Rooke's impacts in such a short space, but i am honored to write a brief comment about him and would support him in anything, just like he did for me when I was his student.

Stacy Plew (Ellis) Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke made my high school experience the greatest. I will always remember how much fun it was and the lessons i learned in his class, to never give up and keep trying, still help me today.

Alison Wold Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke has been a great influence to our daughter. He has given our daughter a sense of self-worth. I've lost count the number of times our daughter has expressed that being in the school's musical productions has been the highlight of her high school career. Mr. Rooke is a dedicated director. He has put in the extra hours on school practices and performances which has led to the success of numerous productions over the years. I'm so happy to see him get the recognition of such a well deserving award!

Kailee Ferguson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is a very inspirational man! There is nobody more deserving of this award.

Kacey Peterson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke was my band teacher all through high school. Not only that, but my favorite teacher, teaching my favorite class. Every day I would walk into that classroom and it didn’t matter what kind of day I was having, Mr. Rooke turned it all around, every time. Sure, there were early morning practices and marching, but it was all worth it, because Mr. Rooke made it fun and rewarding for each and every one of us students, and poured his heart and soul into every single piece of music he conducted for us and helped us learn. Band and the concerts that came out of it are my best memories from high school, and Mr. Rooke is the only person to thank for that.

Kristen Rehak Posted over a year ago

This would be a very deserving award for Mr Rooke... He has been instrumental in bringing wonderful musicals to WHS, allowing students the opportunity to sing, dance or be in the "pit", making the music .... this is in addition to teaching his classes and bands.... He works hard and is admired by his students and their families.... we are blessed to have him as part of the WHS staff.

Emily Morenski Posted over a year ago

I graduated from Williston High School last year and I can hoe stay say that the Mr. Rooke made a huge impact in my life. He not only cares about students growth in Music, but also in life. He is the real deal, and deserves this!

Kelli Olson Posted over a year ago

I’ve never known anyone so dedicated to their students, friends and family. Eric is a truly exemplary teacher and person and I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.

Brenda Collins Posted over a year ago

As a band parent, I get goosebumps when I see that Mr. Rooke was nominated for this LifeChanger of the Year. I truly believe that Mr. Rooke was imperative in my son becoming the man he is today. The band program that Mr. Rooke has established in his years at WHS is above any I've ever encountered. He allows the students to become their own, and supports them when they want to try something different. My son was allowed to play electric bass guitar as part of the pep band, and I believe one of the first students to use the upright bass in years. Mr. Rooke also went the extra mile and purchased an electric upright bass for Evan to play in various concerts. Evan was always a quiet kid. But not during band functions, Evan was THE bass player. I agree with the statement above. "" I’ve never seen a teacher make more of a difference than Mr. Rooke," Frankman said. "He truly deserves recognition."" Yes. Yes he does!

Anonymous Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is a man who wears many hats. He acts as a teacher, a counselor, and most importantly, a friend. He's a rare breed of teachers who actually care about their students outside of the classroom. He is easily one of the best teachers I have ever had.

Alison Mischke Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke was my musical performance instructor but not only that - he was a mentor to me. He helped me thrive as a high schooler and pushed me to reach for my goals. He is compassionate, kind, and caring person. I don’t know if I would be in college today if it weren’t for Mr. Rooke. I have asthma so when I was on one of several music trips with Mr Rooke, I had an asthma attack and he brought me into the ER himself and stay with me for over 5 hours. Afterwards he took me to McDoalds because he knew I was hungry. Haha He is a great man. There were countless conversations about my music career and Mr Rooke told me that I could do anything I wanted in music. He was so encouraging and he truly cares for me. Eric Rooke deserves this award more than anyone. He truly captures what a life changer is.

Dalton Luther Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke is one of the greatest teachers I have ever had the pleasure of having. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be the musician I am today. I can’t thank him enough for everything he had done for me in both an acedemic sense and on a personal level. I am now a working musician, Live Mixing Engineer, and substitute teacher in Fargo thanks to his help and inspiration. I may not see him often, but I am happy to call him both my former teacher and friend.

Emily Long Posted over a year ago

The beginning of my senior year of high school was perhaps one of the most difficult times in my life. I had a tumultuous relationship with my parents, made bad decisions left and right, and I looked to the future and saw only more of the same. The end of my senior saw me apply to a college I was proud of and confident in the future I was pursuing. None of that would have happened without Mr. Rooke. He understands more than any teacher I’ve ever had, that some students just need a place to be themselves. A listening ear and a kind word were always offered and when I needed it, a quiet place to stop worrying. Life changer and life saver are both titles that easily apply to Mr. Rooke.

Megan Michels Posted over a year ago

I will never forget the kind words Mr Rooke would give me and all of my classmates. He truly cared about each and everyone of us. More than just how we were playing in band that day. He was a second dad to a lot of us in Highschool. I can’t think of someone who deserves this more than he does.

Evan Kaiser Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke is one of the best band directors in Williston Public Schools. He works with students to help them be their very best. He's a great teacher, and I strive to be as good as he is.

AmandaRae Anderson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Rooke is by far the best teacher I have ever had. I graduated in 2016 and am currently dealing with a lot of personal problems. He didn't hesitate to message me and make sure I am alright. He continues to keep in touch with his students and help them through hardship any way that he can. I am thankful that I had him as a teacher and I hope that one day I can be a great band teacher like him.

Benjamin Crozier Posted over a year ago

I used to be his student, now I work for Williston School District #1. Without Mr. Rooke, I doubt I would've graduated high school. He helped me when he didn't have to. He was there for me when I lost my father to alcoholism when I was 14, along with the multiple issues I had at home afterwards. He is still there for me now, as a coworker and friend 7 years later. If anyone I know deserves this award, it's Eric Rooke. He's impacted and saved lives, he's not just a music teacher, he's a life changer.

Lainey Lingenfelter Posted over a year ago

I often wonder how just one man can do all that Mr. Rooke does. Managing multiple huge bands is a feat in-and-of-itself but knowing each student on a personal level is even more amazing. Through these relationships he is able to encourage each student to strive to obtain their individual bests. Williston is so lucky to have Mr. Rooke (and his family) enriching our students and our community!

Jacki Keck Posted over a year ago

In their collaboration of musical events at the Williston High School, Eric Rooke and his wife Katie, have not only provided wonderful opportunities for instrumental/vocal involvement but have been role models to those aspiring to a mature, nurturing relationship. As president of the Williston Concert Association for almost a decade (concurrent with the Rooke's music leadership in our community), I have observed many occasions when he's extended personal time to ensure visiting performers the best of equipment and technical support as programs were presented in the old (now Bakken Elementary) high school. He would often draw on the assistance of his students, thereby allowing them to 'learn the ropes' about what it takes to put on a quality production. While in the 'old' high school building, he elevated the level of the auditorium (continuing to be used by WCA), and was active in the creation of the facility in the new Williston High School. The dreams and creative energy he shares have inspired a number of his students to seriously consider music as a career.

Dennis Healy Posted over a year ago

Great young family, personality that has invigorated our High School music program. He has made a difference in our community and would be a great example of what a life changer really represents !!!

Kilee Sundt Posted over a year ago

I had Eric Rooke as a band director when he first started up at Williston High School. We were coming from a well-established program that was almost decimated in one year by a lackluster director in 2004 who was fired after one semester. I remember freshman year thinking, "if this is how band will be for the rest of my high school career, I don't think I want to continue." The next year, Rooke was hired and he walked in letting us know that things would be better and brought up to high standards. My junior year of high school, he entrusted me with his baton and put me in front of the whole community to direct the Concert Band. That opportunity literally changed my life, because after that experience and the encouragement Rooke gave me to pursue a more advanced musical career, I decided to go into music education and today I am typing this comment from my own high school band room only 45 minutes down the road from Williston, now in my 5th year of teaching. Eric Rooke was a great mentor and teacher for me and he continues to develop his excellent program. When I can, I go home to watch his concerts because I know I can learn something from them; professionalism, passion, and excellent repertoire. My own band participates in Williston's Band Day, a large parade that brings in bands from North Dakota, Montana, Canada, and brings in guest artists such as NFL drumlines and professional ensembles. My students see Band Day differently than when I was a student, because Eric Rooke has taken the time and effort to make that parade one of the best in North Dakota, and my students love going there and experiencing the music and culture. When I was in school, the parade was slowing diminishing to fewer bands and smaller crowds until Rooke came in and started transforming it to a huge production that brings a tourist attraction to the town, provides commercialism for businesses, and gives students, not only from WIlliston, but from across the state and beyond an excellent educational experience. So, thank you Mr. Rooke. Your time and teaching in Williston has not only expanded your program, but subsequently others in the area as well. I'm proud to be one of your students and I'm appreciative of your efforts in taking the WHS music program to new heights. And to the committee who is giving out this award, please look at this man's reputation in our area and understand how much he's done to improve the arts for our small, rural community. There's not a lot going on out here in the MonDak for the performing arts, but the production and quality that Eric Rooke gives and the passion and effort he puts out for his students shines brighter than the oil rigs out in the countryside (and that's pretty bright).

Teresa Benson Posted over a year ago

I am a former student of Eric Rooke. I've known him since I was a freshman in high school. I was very involved in the music and drama department at Williston High School. I did four years of band and drama with Eric Rooke. Everyday I ended up spending more time with him than my own parents. He's always been a father figure to all that was involved in band and drama. Eric Rooke has taught me so much about music, drama, and life. He's always gone above and beyond to make sure his students were doing ok in and outside of school. If any of us weren't doing so well he'd pull us in his office and talk to us about it. The biggest lesson Eric Rooke taught me was to be my own advocate. That has carried out in both my school and personal life. Eric Rooke didn't just change me as a student. But as a person too. He didn't just change me but many of other students as well.

Cameron Schiessl Posted over a year ago

Eric Rooke was my high school band instructor, and is now one of my closest friends. From a students perspective he is always willing to lend an ear when you’re having a bad day, and more often then not give really good advice as well. He always pushed not only me, but all of my classmates to be the best we could be. Had it not been for him I very likely would not have stayed in band. As it was, I eventually joined choir as well, and formed an Acapella group (which he was part of.) I have had so many wonderful experiences thanks to him, and I can not think of another person more deserving of this reward. I can definitively say, that my life has been substantially better (and more fun) for having him in it.

Whisper Ramsey Posted over a year ago

Mr.Rooke is a very great man. The Rooke family makes you feel welcome and wanted in the fine arts program.