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Country star raises funds for old school

By Brandy McDonnell Published: March 28, 2008
“But their enthusiasm was really amazing. ... I felt like Hannah Montana.”

His message to the students: “I just told them to dream. Tell a kid to dream and they won’t disappoint you.”

Cleveland fourth-grader Harrison Langston said it was his first time to see a famous person up close and inspiring since Gill went to his school.

“It was very exciting,” he said. “Vince Gill is very amazing and really talented and he’s such a nice guy ... to come back to his original school.”

The 10-year-old said the auditorium renovation will help make Cleveland a better place to learn.

One-night goal

Oklahoma Today Publisher Joan Henderson said the goal of the benefit was to raise all the money for the auditorium project in one day. Tickets were $495.

The auditorium needs a new sound system, lighting and curtains, Coughlin said. It was fitting to name the auditorium for Gill since he made it possible for the project to be started and hopefully finished this summer.

“It’s amazing ... for him to be so willing to give back to us and let us do something in one night that might have taken five years,” she said.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter was quick to share the credit with the people who were willing to pay the stiff ticket price.

“I show up to sing the songs, but they put the dollars in the bank to really create this, so I hope they’ll understand that they’re all a part of this,” he said.

Gill seemed to relish the symmetry of the day, from finding his old music classroom to inviting an aspiring guitarist on stage with him during the assembly. He even laughingly promised to play “House of the Rising Sun” during the concert.

“It’s my closer. It worked in ’66, it should work in 2008,” he said, laughing. “I had no idea that as a second grader that I was singing about a house of ill repute, so hopefully I can get away with now that I’m almost 51.”

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