Who’s Got the Best Band? We Do!” The mantra of the Grenada High School band reverberated across Grenada High School Stadium, Grenada Lake, and Cordova, Tennessee recently as Grenada High School Band alumni gathered for their first annual reunion and present GHS band members garnered yet another grand championship.
Alumni of the Grenada Band program from 1979 – 1983 gathered at the last GHS Charger home football game to reminisce and see just how far the GHS band program has come. The years from 1979 – 1983 were the formative years for the present day program. Dr. David Daigneault, GSD Superintendent, came to the district in 1978 as a young band director and began to build the program that produces one of the top high school marching bands in the country each year. During these developmental years, as the program grew to approximately 200 students, directors Sammy Barr, Ken Leach, John Mixon, and Jeff Young were added to the roster of directors and played important roles in the growing band.
In 1980 Daigneault’s methods and new techniques earned the GHS band all superior ratings at state band competition. In 1981 the band attended its first major competition outside the state of Mississippi when it traveled to Jackson, Tennessee to compete in the Marching Bands of America competition. The band placed eighth in the Southeast region in the finals. In the fall of 1982, the band brought home their first grand championship from Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The band students involved during these breakthrough years learned many life-lessons from the young band directors and applied them as they matured. Jeff Young and Dr. Daigneault both attended the reunion this weekend. John Mixon was there in spirit as well as on the phone, sharing stories and memories with his old coworkers and students.
When the concept of the reunion was conceived, a GHS home football game seemed the best place to start. Alumni had a desire to see the band they helped create performing in its element. During the halftime entertainment, the alumni cheered and watched in awe as the band performed their award-winning show. Memories flooded back as they all remembered the hard work and good times during their own tenure in the band. The next day, alumni and their families gathered at Grenada Lake at what was known as the “Round Tables” during the 80’s. This was a favorite meeting spot after performances for the alumni during their high school years. Old yearbooks and pictures from “the day” were passed around. Alumni no longer with them were remembered as well as those who could not make this reunion. Many stories resurfaced and circulated while perusing the scrapbooks. Approximately 50 alumni attended both events.
Dr. Daigneault, along with everyone in attendance, hopes to make this an annual occasion. Planning an event with this many potential attendees is quite an undertaking. As everyone knows, most high school reunions are spearheaded by the class president. As there is no “band president”, and there are so many years involved, the task falls to anyone willing to tackle the job. This year’s event was conceived by Benny Edwards, Brent Orr, Tracy Wright Boyd, and Amy Methvin Clark during a Facebook conversation in February of this year.
It all began with a question about a former band mate’s whereabouts. After determining the band mate had passed away at a young age, the original posters decided they needed to get together soon! After several other conversations, a date was chosen. Feelers were sent out via social media to determine the amount of interest in such an event. Marilyn Lawson Beardain, Benny Reynolds, and Steve Johnson were brought on board to help coordinate the event after considerable interest was shown. Thanks to all of the hosts for a wonderful time. As a GHS band alumni myself, I feel that I can speak for everyone in attendance that a great time was had by all! Hopefully, at the “Second Annual Grenada Band Reunion,” more alumni will be able to attend. We sure missed seeing you!
*A Facebook page entitled “Grenada High School Band Reunion (1979-1983)” was created to help coordinate this event. If you are a former GHS Band member, “Like” this page to keep in touch with old friends and to keep abreast of plans for other alumni events.