Martha Stevens, a retired choir and band director of Halifax County High School for almost 20 years, receives a surprise visit from former students and their parents on Dec. 23.

This Christmas holiday was a special one for Martha Stevens, a retired choir and band director of Halifax County High School for almost 20 years.

On Thursday, Dec. 23, Stevens thought she was going to dinner with two of her former students, but it was just a distraction to prepare her for what the night would unfold.

Sarah (Hubbard) Willey, who was a former choir student, and Sheree Tucker, who was a former band student of Martha Stevens, both from the Class of 2003, collaborated to organize a Christmas surprise.

Willey gathered former choir students to sing carols while Tucker contacted former band students to play Christmas music on their instruments.

Travis Moore, also a former student and the owner of Drumlogic Percussion Studio at 419A Main Street in downtown South Boston, offered his venue for the former students to rehearse before their performance. Moore also supplied all of the drum equipment for the event and lead the drumline.

Charles Sands, a former choir student, played his keyboard and lead the choir in song.

Derrick Hairston, a former choir student and owner of D. Hairston Photography, captured all of the moments of the night through pictures and video.

The First Baptist Church located at 815 N. Main Street offered parking for the group. The former choir students, band students, students’ parents and HCHS faculty met outside the church where they illuminated their LED candles, donated by Walt and Sarah Willey, to begin their march.

Stevens’ son, Travis Stevens, played a huge role in facilitating the logistics of the event to allow the group to set up in the yard prior to the performance and to coordinate his mother’s schedule with the organizers.

At approximately 6:15 p.m., her son lead Stevens onto her porch where she was greeted by a sea of illuminated candles held by the carolers in her yard. Directly behind the choir was the sound of the band marching as the drumline played their cadences. Former band booster parents, Joyce Tucker and Barbara Tune, carried a vintage HCHS marching band banner to lead the group. Stevens, totally surprised, made her way down the stairs in with tears of joy to greet the group.

To start the event, the band was introduced on loudspeaker by Taryn Garland. She introduced them the same way Martha Stevens had done at the football games for years. She gave the final cue by stating, “Drum Major Sheree Tucker, is your band ready?”

Immediately, Tucker, the last drum major of Stevens, wearing a tall hat and white satin gloves began her salute to her former director.

During her salute, she incorporated Stevens’ signature dance, “The Charleston,” which put a huge smile on the director’s face.

The band, consisting of former students and parents, played “A Christmas Parade Sequence” comprised of “Joy to the World,” “Good King Wenceslas” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

In between the band playing, the carolers sang “Joy to the World,” “Deck The Halls,” and finished with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” The night ended with a prayer by former student, Russell Cook.

Stevens was honored as her former students expressed how much of an impact she had made on their lives. Over the years, Stevens showcased her students’ talents, entered them into competitions, took them on trips, both domestically and internationally, mentored them, and became family to them all.

This “Merry Martha Christmas” was one special surprise that made this holiday memorable for a well-deserved educator in the community.