3rd WHS Alumni Band & Reunion

September 18th and 19th, 2008


In The Media...

Ghosts Of The Glory Days: Wooster High School Alumni come home to march with band
By LINDA HALL, Staff Writer
Wooster Daily Record - October 1, 2008

WOOSTER DISTRICT -- The band played like it was 1987 ... and 1977 ... and even 1947.

"We're going to resurrect all of your ghosts that are on this field," Wooster High School marching band Director Dan Adams told alumni band members from his perch on the bleachers of Maurer Field on the Thursday evening before the homecoming game on Sept. 19.

Until 1994, the field was the scene of glory days, not just for the Wooster Generals football team, but also the marching band.
The years rolled away with the drumbeat of the percussion section as alumni and 2008 marching band members paraded together down Bowman Street from the old high school, now Cornerstone Elementary School, to Maurer Field, just like they used to do.
A total of 160 alumni from the Wooster High marching band came to town homecoming weekend from 14 states and 50 cities, Adams said. They represented six decades, beginning with the 1940s.

Katharyn Hauenstein Gray played percussion for the class of 1941; Marceal Taylor Lowe, the saxophone for the class of 1952, and fellow member of her graduating class, Jean Honeberger Busick, trumpet.

"Pretty good! Pretty good!" Adams called out as they found their positions on the field and counted the steps from the sidelines to their starting positions.

"We'll have to replicate this on Follis Field," Adams reminded them, referring to their official engagement the following evening at the new high school on Oldman Road, where alumni were scheduled to take the field with 165 high school band members for the halftime performance.

"It's the real thing," Adams said on the final run-through Thursday evening. "Watch your tempo. Keep it steady," he cautioned.
The "real" real thing reverberated across Follis Field on Friday evening as the alumni band joined with the high school band to belt out "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)" and "Carmen Ohio" during the halftime show and fight songs and cheers in the stands.
Wooster High School 1977 graduate Michael Coccia, a surgeon in Laguna Beach, Calif., made the trip back home to make a new memory with the band, hang out with old friends and relive the highlight of his high school years.

Coccia said he had wanted to be in the marching band ever since he was a little boy and "my father took me over to the practice field to hear (it) play."

"We all really appreciate Wooster High School (and the music staff) for arranging this reunion," he said. "It brought back a lot of wonderful memories."

It is personally satisfying to him, as well, to be part of "a musical heritage carried through the years."
Old memories were more recent for class of 2007 graduate Eric Browning, 19, a sophomore at Bowling Green University.
"He arranged his classes and responsibilities so he could come (to the reunion)," said his mother, Jeanne Browning.

The opportunity to march again was especially poignant to him because a health problem prevented him from joining the band on the field in the fall of 2006. Instead, Assistant Director Diane Adams took him with her on the golf cart, "following right behind the band," Jeanne Browning said.

Not only did her son enjoy playing at a Boston Red Sox game during his four-year career with the band and a trip to Europe -- funded by his grandmother, Nannie Baker of Hamilton, who said she "wouldn't have missed (the reunion) for the world" -- fellow high school band members remain his friends, Jeanne Browning said.

Former band director Bill Shepherd (1964-69) made a guest appearance; other band directors were honored with messages written to them by their students.

"Don't fidget," a member of former director Robert Bayless's band shouted out to fellow alumni, using Bayless's frequent admonition to them when they were students.

Alumni band members also enjoyed a barbecue at Cornerstone Elementary School, a reception at the Wooster Inn and a farewell dinner at the Olde Jail Brewing Company. Some of the alumni guests took home old band raincoats as souvenirs.


Sentimental Journey: Wooster's third alumni band gathering
Wooster Daily Record - September 24, 2008

I could hear their gathering from far out in the parking lot. There were crowds of them, in fact, in all sizes and shapes, ages and hair color. Some were already tooting horns or banging drums, and a lovely sprinkle of laughter filled the early autumn air. Although in total, more than 300 people were assembled, there was one central commonality: a love for music.

I wasn't really an outsider. After all, I had been vice president of my own high school marching band way back when. But these folks were all Woosterians, hailing from far and wide to share their stories and see old friends, even dust off an old instrument to see if their chops still worked for this "band thing."

I saw a few friendly faces, those of kids I once taught at the former high school, now Cornerstone Elementary, where the event was taking place. There were 161 alumni from 14 states, even five from California. In addition, our fabulous band was there, ready to take on the task of entertaining yet another homecoming game audience. I wandered among the picnickers, who were eating burgers and cookies as they slapped old comrades on the back. It was the third annual alumni band get-together, and the result was nothing short of amazing.

Some of the members explained why it was such a hit. Jill (Shouler) Baird ('82) said, "My whole high school life was band." Ann Marie (Walter) Shell ('86) concurred, "I didn't study for tests until I memorized my band music." Nodding in agreement, Esther (Smith) Bringman ('76) added, "Band gave me a sense of pride."

It was then that I recalled the away games, the band bus, the singing, the marching through "rain, sleet, hail, just like the postman," as Debbie (Slater) Barnes ('76) said. Those were good years, good friends, good times.

I found a duo of former band members sitting on a bench nibbling chips while talking about how things have changed. Jean (Honeberger) Busick ('51) looked at her classmate Marceal (Taylor) Lowe and revealed, "That's when we first met our crowd of friends. We're still in touch with so many of them." Marceal chimed in, "Yes, I still go to the games to see the band. Memories linger long after the years are done."

Sitting with the women was a current band member who exclaimed, "Wow, I knew we worked hard, but I didn't know that it was as important as all this!"

I described to this young student my love for the band: how I wait by the gate to follow them in or I sit in the grandstand at the fair, how I spot my son and his friends among the throng and clap in time.

Karen (Ling) Aczon ('71) concluded, "The bus rides, the standing in formation when the mosquitoes were biting, the learning to be absolutely still. We did all this often-painful stuff, but we came together. And there was nothing in the world better than making that sound."

At the game the next night, the combined musicians were a sight to behold. I looked at the faces, so many I recognized, like former students Bob Veney ('89) and Nick Brown (also '89), both veteran tuba players. Their faces looked up into the stands like proud sunflowers. And I knew what a beautiful thing a marching band is. A place to meet lifetime friends. A place for laughter and pride. A place to make beautiful music.

If you don't believe me, just listen to their sound. There's simply nothing like it.



Wooster High School Band Alumni Gather for Reunion
Wooster Weekly News - September 25, 2008

Alumni from coast to coast dusted off their instruments and returned to Wooster this weekend for the opportunity to re-connect with old friends at the Wooster High School Marching Band reunion.

According to Wooster High School band director Dan Adams 159 alumni from14 states and 50 different cities responded to the invitation to participate in 2008 Alumni Band. While a number of the participants were from nearby states many traveled from as far away as Texas, Washington DC and Georgia to be in Wooster for the event. “We actually have five alumni here from California,” said Adams.

All age groups were represented at the event from recent 2008 graduates to a member of the class of 1941, Katharyn Hauenstein Gray.

Returning alumni were treated to two days of activities which began Thursday evening with a picnic at the site of the original Wooster High School, now Cornerstone Elementary School. The picnic, which was hosted by the Wooster High School Alumni Association, included celebrity chefs Assistant Superintendent Richard Goodright and Director of Alternative Education Mark Stefanik of the Wooster City Schools.

According to association president Joan Goodright the organization also hosted picnics for the two previous alumni band reunions. “We feel it’s really important to host events like this to support our alumni and raise awareness for our alumni scholarship fund at the same time. And we just love the band,” said Goodright. 

Current band members mingled with their counterparts from decades past, swapping stories and memories of their time in the band. Eric Fairhurst of the class of 1977 shared stories of “run on drills” where the band entered to field at pre-game to an extremely fast drum cadence, and unplanned “solos” when he turned the opposite direction from the rest of the band and was then forced to come up with his own drill to get back into formation. “It was just a lot of fun. I have tremendous memories of the band. It was truly exciting to be a part of the band. It was a big deal,” said Fairhurst.

For some, like the Beeman family of Wooster, the reunion was a family affair. Laurie Beeman, a member of the class of 1981, shared the field not only with her son Lucas, who is a member of the class of 2007, but also her younger son Jeb who is currently a freshman at WHS.

Laurie Beeman’s fondest memory of band was a time when “we went to an away game and they asked us to please not march in single file because it made their band look really small. When we got there their pre-game had started they would not open the gate to let the band in. It upset our band director so much that he said ‘That’s it. Single file. Two steps apart.’ We went all the way around their track to get to our seats. It was great.”

Lucas Beeman said “I have a lot of great memories. A lot of good bus trips singing show tunes to pass the time. My junior year we went to Boston and played the Star Spangled Banner at Fenway Park. It was tremendous.” Younger brother Jeb Beeman is now building his own memories of being a member of the WHS band.

After the picnic the combined band marched from Cornerstone down Bowman Street to the original high school’s Maurer Field, just as they had done so many times before. There the band rehearsed Friday’s halftime show for the first time since moving to the new facility.

Friday evening the combined band gathered at the new high school to march together from the band room to the stadium. Current and alumni band members sat together in the stands throughout the game playing the school songs and cheers before taking to the field at halftime.  

One of the highlights of the halftime show was the return of Bill Shepherd, who served as the director of the band beginning in 1964 until he became the director of the Findlay College band in 1969.” Shepherd, who currently teaches at the University of Northern Iowa, conducted the combined band as they played the school’s alma mater.

For Shepherd the long trip from Cedar Falls, Iowa was a way to re-connect with some of his students and to return to the town he loved.

“Wooster has a warm spot for me. I have so many wonderful memories. This is really my favorite place I’ve ever lived. The kids were so fantastic. They were bright. They were talented. We got so much accomplished. It’s just so wonderful to see some of them again,” said Shepherd.


1993 Alumni Band