Curtain Call for Mr. Gavlik
by Mike Ross
High School Band Teacher
After 24 years at HKIS, HS Band Director Mr. Gavlik retires. When Tim Gavlik began at HKIS in 1997, shortly after the Hong Kong handover, the city was going through a time period of uncertainty and challenge. Now in 2022 as Mr. Gavlik heads into retirement, Hong Kong is again going through a time period of challenge and uncertainty after the protest movement and Covid pandemic.

Within these uncertain times, Mr. Gavlik has been a steady source of inspiration for countless students at HKIS. How can one summarize 24 years of excellence and accomplishment in one article? The many awards at band festivals over the years? There are of course so many! The many runs scored by the baseball team he coached? The many excellent performances by the Wind Ensemble that have touched the hearts of the audience? The collaboration between band, strings, choir, and drama for orchestra concerts and musicals such as Bye Bye Birdie and Wizard of Oz? How Mr. Gavlik grew the HKIS HS band program into one of the most well-known and well-respected programs among international schools in the world? Mr. Gavlik has accomplished so many feats with our students and led so many high quality performances that it would take an entire volume to share them all. No, instead I will focus on what truly makes him special and beloved by so many students–his heart for each student in his classroom, and his passion to inspire each person to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

Top: Mr. Gavlik with HKIS band students in Vienna, Austria in 2019 for the AMIS HS Honor Band Festival. Bottom: Mr. Gavlik leading the Wind Ensemble warm-up for the 2018 Christmas Concert in the HS Auditorium (photo credit: Brian Smith)One of Mr. Gavlik’s favorite pieces for Wind Ensemble is “With Heart and Voice” by David Gillingham. It is based on the hymn, “Come Christians Join To Sing”. In 2017 the Wind Ensemble performed this piece for the Hong Kong Winter Band Festival and was declared the grand champion of the festival. The current Wind Ensemble prepared this piece for the May 21 band concert, a fitting finale to Mr. Gavlik’s HKIS career. In addition to being a beautiful and challenging piece, the title really sums up how Mr. Gavlik teaches and lives his life–he puts his whole heart into everything that he does, and brings people around him together to create something beautiful.

Despite all the masks that we have been wearing in Hong Kong for the last two years, Mr. Gavlik could never mask his true feelings on any subject–you always know exactly how he is feeling. Whether he is cheering on his Steelers, giving praise to God, sharing his thoughts in a conversation, addressing students in the band who are not yet giving their best, or has tears streaming down his face while conducting the band in a beautiful performance–in each circumstance you always know exactly how Mr. Gavlik is feeling. You might say that he wears his heart on his sleeve, or that you can see the passion in his eyes. And that is exactly what has endeared him to so many. He has opened up his heart to each of us, and our hearts have been touched by his love, passion, and candor. Mr. Gavlik has inspired so many students to learn important life lessons through their time in the HS band–lessons they have taken with them to become leaders in their fields in their time after HKIS.

Mr. Gavlik with Fine Arts colleagues Jane Klammer, Karen Fish, Susan Kuyper, Robert Hewitt, and Doug Baker, 2002.
Mr. and Mrs. Gavlik raised their two sons here, both of whom graduated from HKIS and enjoy careers in Florida (yes HKIS seniors–there is hope for you yet!). A few years ago they purchased a house in Florida on a golf course, near to where their two sons live. As Mr. Gavlik heads into retirement, we wonder what his encore will be? I’m sure that he will stay connected with music, connected to sports, and he would love to stay connected with each of you as well.

Mr. Gavlik–we applaud you for your 24 years of service at HKIS, for your many accomplishments with our students, and for sharing your heart with us. Come now to take your bow, and enjoy your encore in Florida with your family. God’s blessings on the journey!

Tim and his wife, Ha, who taught in the Upper Primary for 16 years.
Stay in touch with Mr. Gavlik!