OCEAN SPRINGS -- You don't often meet the person a building is named for. That kind of honor is usually given to someone after they've passed on. But Joe "Mr. Joe" Cacibauda's star shines so bright, Ocean Springs High School decided to name the band hall after the former band director less than a year after his retirement.
Wednesday morning, the school held a ceremony to dedicate the band hall. His name now graces the western side of the school near the entrance to the music room he oversaw for 31 years.
Cacibauda's enthusiasm for music and his ability to bring out the best in his students is a familiar story at the high school. He has inspired thousands of students and has led the school to musical prominence. Despite the numerous awards he has led his students to win, he remains humble.
He notes just a few. "We've played for three presidents," he said. "We were chosen as one of 10 bands in the nation to perform in the Independence Day Parade in Washington. We've put many students in the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. We've been designated 'all superior' for 29 of the last 31 years."
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As the Ocean Springs High Jazz Band played in the background Wednesday, Mr. Joe said he has enjoyed getting students interested in music. Certain students do exhibit more of a musical inclination and talent, but anyone can learn, he said.
"With a lot of practice and discipline, the sky's the limit."
They just need to know two things: "It's got to be fun. But it's a lot of work. When the kids figure out it's a lot of work, that's when they do well," he said.
"I'm truly honored and really quite humbled by it," he said of having his name adorn the band hall, which he called his second home.
"It's funny," he said. "A friend of mine said: 'Man, they put your name up on the building and you're still alive. That's amazing.'"
Mr. Joe recalls starting to play music at an young age in a career that has now spanned 43 years.
"I was playing Friday and Saturday nights at clubs in New Orleans," he said. "My father would come with me. If a fight broke out, I'd sneak out the back door. I wasn't supposed to be in the bar."
Ocean Springs High Assistant Band Director Nathan Pepper said one word summed up Mr. Joe.
"'Everything,'" he said. "That's what I've learned from Mr. Joe. You go to school and you learn all this stuff in school, but to have someone mentor you all these years is something.
"I learned from the best. Absolutely."