Drumming up support: Millwood band alumni go back to school to aid students

A group of former Millwood High School marching band members are practicing with the school's current members as part of an effort to show support and restore some of the band's traditions.
by Carla Hinton Modified: October 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: October 8, 2013

“I remember playing in the 89er Parade in Guthrie and hearing people on the sidelines say, ‘Here comes Millwood!'” Greene said.

“We would come around the corner where the judges were and we would break out with our latest songs and our newest dance steps.”

Oklahoma City Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis Jr., a former Millwood band tuba player, attended a recent practice, along with Torrey Purvey, a 1994 Millwood graduate and former drum major who is now the director of the Star Spencer High School marching band.

A 1991 graduate and former member of the drum line, the Rev. William Simms, 39, of Oklahoma City, showed up to practice in a cream-colored suit and had to return home and change into jeans and a T-shirt when fellow alumni teased him about not being serious about marching again.

“We remember what it was like when we were in school. We want to show our support for the school and the current students,” Purvey said.

Local support sought

Robinson, who is a 1990 graduate of John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, said she knows all about Millwood's Falcon traditions. She said her own two children attend Millwood and she'd like to see some of the customs brought back.

With only 280 students, however, the high school is lacking the community resources of say, a school of 1,200, which would be more likely boast a larger parental and community support base, she said.

Robinson said the number of band members had dwindled to less than 20 in recent years.

Band director Goodman said he only had one horn player and needed some alumni support in the horn section, among other things. Robinson said faculty turnover over the last several years hurt the school's arts programs. And that's been compounded by the fact that the school's state funding levels have forced school leaders to cut funding to arts programming like band.

“If we have to choose between textbooks and instruments, we have to choose textbooks,” Robinson said.

She said she thinks the former parent boosters and band alumni returning to help is “pretty amazing” and she'd like to see other things happen, such as an alumni mentoring program for the school's juniors and seniors.

Woods, a former drum major and player of the flute and piccolo, said she and other band alumni tried several years ago to start a band alumni group that could aid the school. She said this year's group is the largest turnout, so she is hopeful other alumni will return, as well.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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