Our Town O'Neill: Music

O'NEILL, Neb. -- Chad Dean didn't know what to expect when he arrived at O'Neill High School in the Fall of 2000, but let's just say he was pleasantly surprised with what he had to work with.

"O'Neill was a little bigger school than what I was at previously, so when I came here I was a little overwhelmed. But the amount of talent I saw even all the way down with the elementary school was fun to work with right off the bat," Dean said.

Many of those young musicians have grown up and developed some very successful careers in music.

"I'm pretty sure the best ones that I found started in a little Nebraska town," said Rachel Price.

Price made a name for herself a few years ago when she released this catchy little tune that went viral all over Nebraska.

Like Price, Bobbi Leann Walters is a 2011 O'Neill High School graduate who has already gotten her career underway.

"It's amazing just to see the people you meet, the places you go, it's a life-changer," Walters said.

"We've had a lot of kids go on and do music in one way or another," Dean said.

Dean has compiled an impressive list of former students that are making it big professionally.

"Ryan Lieb, he's in Omaha right now. He plays in a band called Sovereignty, it's a heavy metal group and he's really involved in the heavy metal scene down there in the metro area," Dean said. "Jordan Peterson is a former student of mine, he's literally been around the world playing in a piano bar on cruise ships. We've got two brothers, Steward Havranek is a drummer for the Back 40 band, and his older brother Lincoln Havranek, who plays saxophone, and he's right now getting his doctorate degree in saxophone performance at UNL."

Walters is very proud to be on a long list of accomplishments O'Neill musicians.

"Some of the students were much older than me, but definitely to see where all those guys...and I brag about O'Neill and definitely the music program here because it's amazing to have someone who's taught here for 18 years and to continue to teach here...it's awesome," Walters said.

Dean has enjoyed watching his students make the most of their musical talents.

"I think the better they got, the more interested they got and as the doors opened for them in college or in their professional lives, they were going through it and it was amazing to watch some of these kids grow from 5th grade all the way to even where the point where they're at today," Dean said.

Right now, with school starting, Chad Dean is turning his attention to the present and it looks like he's got a pretty impressive marching band that's going to be fired up to entertain Eagle crowds this upcoming school year.