PRESTONSBURG — Our Prestonsburg High School Majorette Alumni, formed in 2011, celebrated its third annual reunion Oct. 11 and 12, during the Jenny Wiley Pioneer Festival. Alumni came from North Carolina, Ohio, Louisville, Lexington, Southgate, Flatwoods, Pikeville, Eastern, Allen, Banner and Prestonsburg to participate in performances at a PHS football game and in the Jenny Wiley Festival parade. We couldn’t have asked for better weather for our reunion.
We performed A Decades Medley, a performance of six hits over the 60 years of majorettes at PHS. Narrated by Justin Cook, Q95 disc jockey, and choreographed by Juanita “Boots” Adams, the performance CD told the story of PHS majorettes from our beginning in 1946 to our end in 2006. The song list included “In the Mood,” “Rock Around the Clock,” “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” “Rocky” and “Macarena.” Cook worked for hours on our music and narration performance CD and the finished product is nothing short of professional.
Mr. Cook stated on the CD, “Let’s take a walk — or should I say, a twirl — through the decades with them, beginning now!” and the music began and onlookers were taken through the 60-year history of PHS majorettes. Beginning with a mention of World War II, it was also noted that the 1940s were the beginning of the Big Band era and the first song, “In the Mood,” was a recording the by Glenn Miller Band. The story continued with mention of Elvis and the beginning of the rock-n-roll music era in the 1950s; the awesome 1960s with mention of Vietnam, the Beatles, Woodstock and JFK; the 1970s new technology which progressed through the 1980s with the invention of the personal computer and VCRs; and finally to the 1990s, the last decade of majorettes at PHS.
We worked throughout the year in preparation for this performance, something we had hoped to do from the first reunion. Practices were ongoing in Prestonsburg and Lexington, and performance videos were sent via internet to all who planned to participate. Pictures and videos are now available for your viewing pleasure on our Facebook page, Prestonsburg High School Majorette Homecoming, and we welcome your comments and invite you to share any pictures you have of our performances there, also.
Our majorette alumni has a long list of people to thank, beginning with Juanita “Boots” Adams, majorette director at PHS from 1961 to 1995, and a former state champion twirler and Eastern State College’s feature twirler. Boots taught and practiced tirelessly with our group throughout the year and her “touch” was evident in the performance. She also directs the Prestonsburg Christmas Parade performances, which our group has participated in the past two years and plans to do again this year.
Thanks and much appreciation also go to Prestonsburg High School staff: principal Jerry Butcher, athletic director Jackie Day Crisp, music director Greta Gilbert, Dance Cats coach Jeri Lynn Copley, cheerleader coach Leslie Ousley, janitors and other staff and students. They made us feel “at home” while there and catered to our every need, along with use of the facility for practice weeks prior to the reunion weekend. Their cheers and support during our game performances will never be forgotten!
Other school administrators who assisted were Sean Ousley and Brent Rose, of Prestonsburg Elementary, and Mike Bell, music teacher at Allen Elementary, who recorded himself playing a drum cadence, which was used in the football game performance. Playing along with his recording at the game was James Curtis Warrix, PHS alumni band member. Mr. Warrix also played bass drum from the float in the parade. Much thanks and appreciation to all of them!
Two area churches Allen Baptist and First Presbyterian, provided practice space throughout the year, the latter also for the reunion weekend the past two years and for monthly meetings. Lexington’s Bluegrass Hospice provided space for our practices there, and alumna Kaye Brown Doller, an employee there, provided lunch for all.
Our new t-shirt design was created by alumna Helen Hall VanHoose and was brought to life by Hi-Tech Signs and Graphic Design. Helen also designed our banquet program, banner and new letterhead to include the new design. Helen and her sisters, Pat Hall and Phyllis Hall Burchett, also alumni, presented canvas gift bags complete with the new design to all who attended. Many thanks to all!
Sandy’s Restaurant and Catering provided our pregame meal on Friday evening in the band room, space generously provided by PHS music teacher Greta Gilbert. The meal was delicious and just what we needed after a long day of practice and before the halftime performance.
Angie Potter Goodman, daughter of alumna Haroletta Baldridge Potter, photographed the group on the field and in the stands, and also during the performance. Her photograph accompanies this article. For more information regarding group pictures, contact her at (606) 886-9220.
Ralph B. Davis, of The Floyd County Times, printed weekly pictures and articles that we submitted for months prior to and up until the reunion. These articles, which included a list of “lost” alumni, helped us to advertise the event and also to find lost alumni. We appreciate his timely work!
Much appreciation goes to the staff at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, where our Saturday evening banquets have been held every year. The group is able to enjoy a much-needed meal after the parade, amid the displays of majorette memorabilia. Thanks to Haroletta Baldridge Potter and Randall Burchett for providing video and slideshow entertainment for the evening. Randall, husband of alumna Phyllis, is the “resident” videographer/photographer for the group and all enjoy the finished products he provides. Haroletta is our “master IT person,” who converts Randall’s videos to Youtube availability for our practice needs. We truly could not be ready by reunion weekend without their work! All enjoyed the scrapbook, created by alumna Susie Wright Gayheart, also.
Another feature of our banquet was the memorial to our deceased alumni. Alumna Sarah Lynn Young Change read the names of our known deceased alumni and a moment of silence was reserved in their memory. Deceased alumni include Barry Lockwood, Sharon Bradley Ellis, Ruth Helen Hall, Barbara Maynard, Peggy Bussey, Elizabeth Frazier, Joyce Parker, Jane Carol Ford, Loretta Cooley, Patricia Rose Cooley, Arnita Clark, Cathy George Walker, Kim Marcum and Julie Osborne Lester.
Our parade float was provided by Derrick Martin and alumni and family enjoyed the view of the parade from it. The float was led by our volunteer banner carrier, Madge Sbonek, who marched in memory of her cousin and deceased alumna, Kim Marcum. Operating our music and sound system was alumnus Jerry Lafferty, drum major from 1961 to 1965. Betty Jo DeRossett, PHS band alumna and sister of alumna Sarah, directed our driver of performance stops. The beautiful covered chairs were provided by alumna Michelle Wilson Sword, owner/operator of Signature Events.
The parade performances are greatly enjoyed and we are urged on by the vast crowd of onlookers and supporters. Children watch in awe, mostly because it may be their first time seeing women marching and twirling. Adults are overcome with memories and we hear many shouts such as, “You’ve still got it, ladies!” It is this support that got us through this parade, doing eight performances of “A Decades Medley” and three of the PHS school song, “Loyal and True.” We were all still standing at the parade’s end and, after a few bottles of water, were ready to on to our next event, our banquet.
Other alumni spouses, Delano May, Fletcher Gayheart and Bill Chaney, assisted with the float decorations and the logistics of getting everyone safely on and off the tall trailer. Jody Conley, of Kentucky Opry, assisted with the sound system setup, and Keith Caudill, Mountain Arts Center, provided an amplifier. Chuckie May provided a generator for the sound system. Much appreciation to all.
Attendees of the reunion and their years as majorette were Sarah DeRossett, 1970-72, Durham, N.C.; Sarah Lynn Young Chaney, 1963-66, Lewis Center, Ohio; Amanda Spradlin Anderson, 1992-96, Southgate; Phyllis Hall Burchett, 1962-66, Louisville; Pat Hall, 1964-67, Louisville; Kaye Brown Doller, 1975-76, Lexington; Kathy Barnett Kendrick, 1982-86, Lexington; Melanie Webb Underwood, 1981-85, Flatwoods; Susie Wright Gayheart, 1965-67, Eastern; Heather Hall Greene, 1989-91, Allen; Virginia Adams Campbell, 1959-63, Allen; Carol Jo Clark May, 1968-72, Allen; Michelle Wilson Sword, 1982-86, Pikeville; Juanita “Boots” Adams, Prestonsburg; Haroletta Baldridge Potter, 1966-69, Prestonsburg; Jerry Lafferty, 1961-65, Prestonsburg; and Betty Taylor Davis, 1985-89, Banner.
Alumni who attend enjoy our reunions more each year. Though performing is a big part of the event, it is not a requirement. All are asked to attend all or any portion of the reunion they are able. All are also asked to contribute to alumni expenses and to the Elizabeth Frazier Scholarship Fund, if possible. Our reunion would not be possible without those contributions and we are very proud to contribute to the scholarship, which is awarded to music students each year. Last year’s recipients, Nicholas Hites and Kaleb Rodebaugh, are descendants of the PHS Majorette Alumni, and we are very proud of them. Our 2013 contribution was presented to Greta Gilbert on Oct. 25, when we attended the chili dinner scholarship fundraiser.
In hopes of a revival of twirling, a true talent, the group gave away a baton gift set at the football game. The lucky winner was Shelby Blackburn, daughter of Ryan and Shera Wagoner and Jason Blackburn. Shelby’s baton and those which we twirl were purchased at Starline Baton, of Cookesville, Tenn., (931) 528-7829 or www.starlinebaton.com. It is our dream that little girls will once again learn to twirl batons and will someday lead their high school or college bands, as we once did.
Plans have begun for the upcoming Prestonsburg Christmas Parade performance on Dec. 13 and at a PHS basketball game on Dec. 14. All alumni who wish to participate may do so by contacting us at the number or email below.
For more information regarding the alumni group and its upcoming performances, please contact us at (606) 874-2244 or email@example.com.
2013 reunion planning committee: Juanita “Boots” Adams, Phyllis Hall Burchett, Susie Wright Gayheart, Haroletta Baldridge Potter, Carol Jo Clark May and Michelle Wilson Sword.