THOMAS – Alexa Hansen, a senior at Snake River High School (SRHS), has been awarded the first-ever Douglas Wareing Memorial Scholarship.

This scholarship honors the longtime school and community band director, who was a passionate musician and educator. The scholarship is awarded to a student who wants to begin higher education pursuits in music or music education.

Wareing was a driving force for live music in eastern Idaho, especially big band jazz. He was actively involved in leading bands until his death at age 90 last November.

He gave many people a love for music, for each other, and for life. He inspired his students beyond any boundary or horizon they put on themselves.

“I knew Doug,” Hansen said. “What I liked about him was he knew music very well and how to teach it. He encouraged everyone to play percussion. He wanted students to expand their abilities so he would challenge percussionists to try another instrument or trombone players to learn to play the saxophone. He was awesome.”

Hansen’s band teacher, Danny Roberts, encouraged her to apply for this scholarship.

She plays piano in the SRHS jazz band. She also plays flute, piccolo, organ, and ukulele. At Idaho State University, she plans to major in music education. Her favorite instrument is the marimba.

Hansen added, “This scholarship really, really helps me. There is not as much pressure to get a job so I can be more focused on education and getting the best education that I possibly can.”

She is the daughter of Dennis and Emily Hansen.

Before his death, Wareing would attend the early morning practices at SRHS to assist the jazz band. He also organized “Music in the Park” in Blackfoot during the summer.

The Wareing Scholarship is open to a qualified student who is attending or has attended high schools where Wareing taught. These schools include Butte County High in Arco, Snake River High School, Firth High School, Blackfoot High School in Blackfoot, Weber High School in Pleasant View, UT, and Rigby High School.

Mike Willits, one of the scholarship organizers, said, “Our inspiration for the scholarship came from our mentor, teacher and friend, Mr. Douglas Wareing, aka ‘Papa Smurf.’ At his tragic passing, a few of us that had been his students discussed how we could best honor his memory. The idea of a scholarship came up and really resonated with us. We created a small ‘gofundme’ drive, expecting a few hundred dollars. The outpouring of generosity was nothing short of amazing. Friends and family really wanted to be a part of it. As it stands now, we are just short of being able to fund this annual scholarship for 10 years.

“Mr. Wareing was an inspiration to those he taught and interacted with. Candidly, we hope that this scholarship will inspire the next generation of musicians and teachers.”

For more information about the Wareing Scholarship or to donate to it, visit