Mary Stevens' love of music has prompted her to take part in many Havre community activities.
She is a pianist and music director at First Lutheran Church. She teaches piano lessons. She performs at the Northern Montana Care Center and for hospice patients. And she offers free concerts at noon each Wednesday in the Atrium Mall.
But she has always had a special place in her heart for her work with young people.
Since 1989, she has been involved in the high school music scene in one form or the other.
She played the piano in high school musicals, she gave lessons to students and she helps prepare the young people as they prepare for district and state competitions.
All of this volunteer work prompted the Havre High School Blue Pony Booster Club to award Stevens the Dr. Jim Elliott Memorial Award, which is handed out annually to honor those who volunteer and who make personal sacrifices for the betterment of Blue Pony activities.
"I was very surprised," said Stevens. "It was quite an honor."
"I love making music, and I believe in the value of music for myself and for the students," she said.
Many people at the high school are pleased that Stevens won the award because they feel music students are beginning to get the attention that has been reserved for athletes.
The Elliott award has always been given to people who help the sports program, even though the rules don't require that.
"People always assumed that the award was for athletics," said Brenda Evans, Booster Club president. "It's not. It's for all Havre High School activities."
Evans said she was especially impressed when she read the nomination from Choir Director Patrick Ryan.
"She devotes countless hours to rehearsing with students during music festival season, and takes time out of her busy life to attend district and state music festivals where she accompanies many Blue Pony students," Ryan wrote in his nomination letter.
He said she has helped students prepare for about 50 concerts — including district and state championships.
He praised Stevens' "professionalism, humbleness and personal integrity."
"I can think of few others who have touched the lives of so many Havre High School students," he said.
Stevens said music is helpful in developing young people.
It is a tremendous outlet, she said.
"When you play Beethoven, you can beat up the piano and not get in trouble for it," she said. "It's better than beating up a little brother."
She became involved in the music program in 1989, when John Musgrove asked her to play the piano for school musicals. Her daughters, Julie Stevens, who now lives in Michigan, and Rachel Dean of Havre, took part in the music program, and that convinced her to stay involved. Her daughters have long since graduated, but Mary Stevens is still involved.
Keeping young people interested in music is difficult in this era of "instant gratification," she said.
"Some activities you can learn in two months," she said. "Music takes 10 years."
"Coaches can see the students at practice every night," she said. "In music, you have to trust them to practice at home. And they have a lot of distractions."
Still, she's impressed with the students and the programs offered at Havre.
"There are plenty of music groups," she said. "There are lots of opportunities."Mary Stevens wins Elliott award for HHS service