Highland Home band director bids Squadron farewell
Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Thirteen years ago, Chad W. Turner walked into the Highland Home School band room for the first time. There was no band roster for any band members. He had two band parents show up at his first Band Booster Meeting with one child. Years have flown by.
Under Turner’s direction, the HHS Squadron Pride Band has gained over 40 members and a strong Band Booster Organization since that time and won many awards for marching and symphonic band.
“God brought me to Highland Home 13 years ago and now looking back, what a fantastic ride, what a fantastic opportunity,” Turner said.
“It will always be ‘band time’ and the Squadron Pride Band will forever be in my heart.”
Turner or “Mr. T” as his band kids called him, was recently offered another position with Opelika City Schools and regrettably stepped down as the director of bands.
His students and band parents were the first to know his new plans and graciously threw him a farewell party, on July 8 in the HHS band room.
Turner and his wife April, color guard and majorette instructor, settled in the Highland Home community and had two boys, Cam (11) and Cole (four). The HHS Band kids over the years have been around to see both boys born and grow up around the band.
While Turner taught the kids how to begin playing their instruments, his wife taught the majorettes and color guard members how to twirl. Many of the girls could be seen twirling on hill of the band room or in the Turner’s Yard.
The Turners could also be seen at Campground United Methodist Church in Luverne, where Turner served as choir director for many years.
Turner has impacted so many children’s lives in the Highland Home community. In packing up his office and 13 years of memories, he found he had kept pictures, mementos and t-shirts from all 13 shows.
Walking into the band room now, a shelf is lined with trophies the students earned while under his direction. A sign has been added to the outside of the band room to mark the room where many kids felt at home.
Turner started his beginners in the fifth grade and worked with them every year until they were ready for the marching band. His concerts and Friday night performances have been creative and unforgettable over the years.
Turner says he owes much of his success to his three band moms who stayed with him over the years: Debbie Duke, Sylvia Askew and DJ Commander. These women were there to make sure that Turner and the kids had what they needed. Whether it was a simple button or a fundraiser, these ladies, along with his Band Boosters, jumped right in.
Christy Norris, HHS special education teacher, assisted with the band and was an asset to the program, according to Turner.
“Luverne High School band director Jonathon Chance has been a great friend and comrade over the years,” Turner said.
“Chance and I organized and ran the Crenshaw County Honor Band each year.”
Turner worked hard to promote competitions and honor bands. His kids were accepted into the Auburn, Alabama, Troy, Huntingdon and South Alabama Honor Bands. He traveled to marching band competitions in Daleville, Troy, Rehobeth, Opp and Andalusia throughout the years, where his band won best in class.
Many of his kids have won scholarships and participated in college bands all over Alabama. He also planned and organized band trips over the years. Many of his students traveled to Disney World for the first time and marched in many parades in his time as director.
Turner explained that many of his band students assisted with picking out a marching band show theme and music each year. He and wife designed the drill and props for each show.
His themes over the years included movies, the 80’s, Blues Brother’s, Friday Night Rocks, Groovalicious , Let’s get this Squadron Show on the Road, Michael Jackson, Livin’ Smooth and Crazy with a lot of Boom, Livin’ Wild and Funky, Shuffle Show, In the Middle of a Crazy Good Time, Flash Back Friday and lastly Beast Mode.
“I am very proud of all of my ‘band babies’. Many of my former students have gone out of their way to share memories and thank yous over the past several weeks,” Turner said.
It is said that Turner has been a director, teacher and father figure to so many students over the years.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of each child’s life,” Turner said.
“I appreciate the community and county in supporting the program through many fundraisers and donations that have benefited these kids directly.”