Joke all you want about “band nerds.” Alums attending this summer’s Lake Highlands High band reunion say they were having as much fun as any of their Wildcat classmates back in the day. Reunion attendees were students of Eddie Green, beloved director of LHHS’ band from 1970-76, and they exchanged old photos and swapped stories from band camp and pivotal performances.
“We were probably the best high school band in the nation, but we didn’t know it at the time,” said Mary Pendergrass Terry, drum major in 1975 and organizer of the event. “We were invited more times than other teams to play at the prestigious MidWest Clinic. Our symphonic band played challenging orchestral compositions, it was pretty amazing.”
Terry gushed praise for Connie Freeman, LHHS’s first female drum major, and for Green, who founded LHJH’s music program when it opened in 1964 and left LHHS to direct bands at Western Michigan University and the University of Houston. His textbook, Essential Musicianship for Band-Ensemble Concepts is used all over Texas and around the world.
“Mr. Green is still hired to get bands ready to compete for contests,” she said. “He’s still working at age 80.”
At the group’s reunion in 2004, alums marched and played a show. “We had to rehearse all day,” said Terry. “This time, Mr. Green just wanted us to visit.”
Well into their 60s, not everyone could remember old song titles, but they could recall shenanigans.
“We got pretty good at forging Mr. Green’s signature,” Terry said. “If we wanted to skip school, we just filled out a hall pass. I guess we abused our power a bit.”
She admitted there was some sneaking out of hotel rooms while traveling for competitions, and boyfriends and girlfriends juggled official seating charts so they could sit together on the bus to football games.
The reunion drew more than 150 alums from as far away as Washington State, Florida, California and New York. One woman even planned a trip from Australia, but her husband fell ill at the last minute.
“I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my band experiences. I’ve learned time management, dependability, commitment, hard work, dedication and team work. You had to get your part down if you wanted to be the best for the bigger picture. We were a team, and we depended on each other.”