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Director of Bands, Amanda R. Griffis

AMANDA R. GRIFFIS is the Director of Bands at Braulio Alonso High School in Tampa, FL. She currently oversees all band activities which includes three concert ensembles, jazz ensemble, dance and color guard ensemble, percussion ensemble, and the Raven Marching Band.

Mrs. Griffis is a native of North Carolina where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned her master’s degree in the summer of 2021 from the Florida State University College of Music. She began her teaching career in Jacksonville, Florida in the fall of 2013, raising the enrollment and overall musical standard for each program she has had the pleasure of leading.


Bands under her direction have consistently earned superior ratings in concert, marching and jazz assessments. As one of the largest programs in the Tampa Bay area, the Alonso Band program prides itself on regular student representation in All-County jazz and concert ensembles, the Hillsborough Master Musician program, All-State ensembles, and collegiate honors ensembles. A high number of Alonso Band alumni go on to participate in some of the most recognized collegiate marching bands in the state including the University of South Florida's Herd of Thunder Marching Band, University of Florida's Gator Band, and the Florida State University Marching Chiefs.

Mrs. Griffis is an active adjudicator in the areas of marching band, concert band, and chamber ensemble events. She is currently in her 10th year of public high school teaching in the state of Florida. Most recently, her three concert ensembles earned unanimous superior ratings at the District 7 Concert Music Performance Assessment – a first in school history. Mrs. Griffis was awarded with the Florida Bandmaster’s Association’s Tom Bishop Award in 2018, which recognized dramatic growth in recruitment and overall musical performance with her ensembles at Chamberlain High School. Her concert band at Chamberlain earned the first straight Superior rating in over 20 years. Prior to this, her concert band at Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Florida earned their first superior rating in over a decade. She has had the honor of being a presenter at the Florida Music Educator’s Conference in Tampa and has served the Florida Bandmasters Association as a state board member and committee member. Her professional affiliations include the Florida Music Educators Association, Florida Education Association, National Band Association, and Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity. 

Mrs. Griffis lives in Tampa with husband and fellow high school band director Keith, their son Clay and a scruffy dog named Nola.

Associate Director of Bands, Joseph Kennedy
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JOSEPH KENNEDY graduated Magna Cum Laude from The Florida State University College of Music with a Bachelor's of Music Education. During his time there, he performed with various ensembles including the FSU Wind Orchestra where he performed perform multiple world premiere pieces. He is a recipient of the Lucilla Gumm and Wiley Housewrght Memorial Scholarship along with the Music Endowed Scholarship. He was a member of the Marching Chiefs for four years holding various staff and leadership positions.

Mr. Kennedy is joining Alonso after a successful stint as the Director of Bands at Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Florida. During his time there, he instructed the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, various chamber ensembles, Jazz Band, and the War Eagle Marching Band. Under his direction, the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Marching Band consistently earned superiors at their District MPA's with the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band making appearances at the State level. While under his direction, the Wind Ensemble has received the F. Lewis Jones Superior State Concert MPA award in 2024. This spring, the Jazz Band has earned a Superior at their State Jazz MPA for the first time in program history.

Mr. Kennedy loves being active through running and playing pickleball along with hanging out with his cat Ziggy.

Dance Instructor, Billy Sullivan
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BILLY SULLIVAN started his dance and guard career in his hometown of Cape Coral. He moved to Tampa to attend the University of South Florida and was a performing member of Fahrenheit and Northeast Independent during that time. This is also when he started coaching dance teams and colorguards around the state of Florida. When he wasn't on the field or competition floor with his teams, he also taught at various dance studios. He was the director of the Bloomingdale Crimson Guard program from 2009-2021, and has most recently worked with the Sickles Sensations and Plant Danceros. Mr. Sullivan will be joining the Alonso Ravens as the Ascent Dance Team coach, as well as a school counselor for the school. 

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Dance Instructor, Julia Mac-Ben-Zvi - Davidsen Middle School

JULIA MAC - Bio Coming Soon

Dance Staff, Dakota Porter

DAKOTA PORTER - Bio Coming Soon

Brass Specialist,  Anna Held
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ANNA HELD is a recent graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, a certificate in French Horn performance, and a minor in Japanese language and literature. During her time at the University, she was a performing member of the UF Wind Symphony, Brass Band, and Gator Marching Band. Further, she remained active in the Alpha Eta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, national honorary band fraternity, where she served in multiple leadership positions. Her experience includes working with students at Kanapaha Middle School in Gainesville and North Marion High School in Ocala during her student teaching internships. Additionally, Anna has worked with several other middle and high schools in Gainesville teaching sectionals and working with marching bands.  We are pleased to have her as a new Alonso Bands staff member for 2024-2025!

Jazz Specialist,  Tom Ziegelhoffer

Mr. Z served as a music educator in Hillsborough County for 36 years. The last 10 years as the Assistant Principal of Curriculum of Fine Arts at Howard W. Blake Performing Arts High School until his retirement in 2008. His other credits include serving as a clinician for the All-County Middle School Jazz Bands for Hillsborough and Pasco Co. He was also instrumental in the revival of the All-Star High School Jazz Band with featured soloist, Jeff Rupert in 2018. Mr. Z is a Veteran serving in the Navy Band, during the Vietnam Crisis. As a professional musician he performs locally with many groups, Dick Rumore's Jazz Cellar Orchestra, Encore IV Big Band, Tomcats Jazz Orchestra. J. R. Farley Orchestra, Anclote Symphonic Winds, to name a few. Currently Mr. Z is doing adjunct teaching at many high schools in Hillsborough and Pasco Co.

Percussion Instructor,  Matt Olsavsky

MR. OLSAVSKY is a percussionist and band director who moved down to the Tampa Bay Area with his wife where he will be the band director at Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science. He graduated from the University of North Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance under the direction of Dr. Andrea Venet.  Mr. Olsavsky has a very diverse musical background. He has performed all types of music from marching band to classical. In 2017 Mr. Olsavsky was a semi-finalist for the Great Plans International Marimba Competition. He is very excited to be a part of the Alonso High School band program!

Reed Specialist,  Evan Lutz
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EVAN LUTZ is a classically trained clarinetist, bass clarinetist, and music teacher operating in the Tampa Bay Area. Evan has been playing the clarinet and bass clarinet since 2012 and received his undergraduate degree in music from Stetson University in 2022. He has performed with the Southern Winds Ensemble as well as the Florida Wind Band, and is currently completing a master’s degree in clarinet performance at the University of South Florida.

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