PRESTONSBURG – October 9-10, 2015 marked the 5th Annual Prestonsburg High School Majorette Alumni Reunion, a celebration of 60 years of marching and baton-twirling at PHS. From 1946 until 2006, there were majorettes, drum majors, head majorettes, and field commanders proudly marching in front of the Prestonsburg High School Band in parades held throughout our state and during field shows to the delight of appreciative audiences.
The PHS Majorette Alumni Association was formed in 2011 when a hard-working planning committee took on the task of searching through yearbooks for the names and years of those who twirled or led PHS bands. An even harder task of finding the alumni was next. Thanks to the help of families and social media, nearly all the alumni have been found, and each one is invited to the reunions annually.
That first reunion in October 2011 was a success with nearly 50 alumnus participating! The group performed at the PHS Friday night football game and in the Jenny Wiley Pioneer Festival Parade on Saturday. After that reunion, the decision was made by the majority of the alumni to continue the reunions annually. This yearly reunion will continue as long as interest is shown. It is the hope and mission of the participating alumni to keep the memory of twirling and marching alive at PHS as well as to contribute to the Elizabeth Frazier Memorial Scholarship. For the past 5 years, the alumni has strived to do just that.
As was done the first year, the reunion is strategically timed to be during the Jenny Wiley Pioneer Festival so that the group will be able to perform in the parade each year in Prestonsburg. The group also provides a decorated float on which alumni and family members may ride. The reunion begins on Friday and every other year the group performs at a PHS home football game. The group marches or rides in the Jenny Wiley Pioneer Festival Parade on Saturday and
celebrates with a Banquet at Jenny Wiley State Park May Lodge on Saturday evening.
The majorette reunions would not be possible without the help of the community. The alumni would like to thank the two area churches, Allen Baptist and First Presbyterian, that provide rehearsal space and host the group on reunion weekend and provide monthly meeting space throughout the year.
We thank fellow Alumnus, Michelle Wilson Sword and her husband, James Sword, for providing a delicious pre-game meal on Friday from their restaurant, Roasted, Pikeville.
We also thank the following Prestonsburg High School administrators, Jerry Butcher, Principal, Betty Taylor Davis, Youth Services Coordinator and Dance Cats Coach, John DeRossett, Football Coach, Rachel Hackworth Willoughby, Cheerleader Coach, Brent Rose, Principal, and Greta Hicks Gilbert, Music Teacher, for all their help and hospitality during the football game and pre-game dinner.
We thank the City of Prestonsburg for welcoming us in their parades year after year and for providing for our safety and wellness from start to finish! And we especially thank the onlookers and our alumni family members who cheer us on faithfully every year!
Parade music choreography and drum cadence was made possible by Jody Conley of The Kentucky Opry. The group performed to songs from the Walt Disney movie, Frozen, as well as the PHS school song, Loyal and True. Patrick Davis, nephew of Alumnus, Rebecca Warrix Lerman, was our game announcer and Daniel Bohart, son of Alumnus, Amanda Spradlin Anderson, operated the sound system from the float. The sound system was loaned by Jody Conley and the Allen Baptist Church Praise and Worship Band.
Chuckie May of May Wrecker and Towing provided the truck, driven by Marcus Manns, and generator used for the float. Float-decorating on parade morning is a task that alumni and their spouses and families enjoy every year. Chairs were provided by Allen Baptist Church.
Madge Harris –Sbonek, cousin of the late alumnus, Kim Marcum, proudly carried our banner ahead of the float in memory of Kim and in honor of the alumni. Families of late alumni are welcome to join her or to ride on our float.
Hi-Tech Signs and Graphic Design, Prestonsburg, provides tee shirts and banners, designed by Alumnus, Helen Hall VanHoose, each year, and we appreciate their timely work. Helen has also designed letterhead and envelopes for the group which is a nice feature to our mailings as well as our banquet program.
Group photography and videography has been maintained yearly by Randall Burchett, husband of alumnus Phyllis Hall Burchett. A wealth of pictures and videos of practices and performances are provided and we appreciate that Randall helps us create new memories of our reunions to share with everyone. His pictures and videos can be seen on the groups’ Facebook Group Page, Prestonsburg High School Majorette Homecoming. Rebecca Warrix Lerman has also provided a slide show each year that is thoroughly enjoyed by all at the banquet! Rebecca’s daughter, Lexie, also took countless pictures of the group which we will enjoy viewing for years to come. Susie Wright Gayheart designed and maintains a group scrapbook which everyone enjoys!
Last, but certainly not least, the alumni thanks Juanita “Boots” Adams, Majorette Director at PHS from 1961 until 1995. Boots, a former state champion twirler and Eastern State College’s feature twirler, again coached the group through rehearsals and performances. Her presence is always appreciated throughout the reunions and the alumni always looks forward to seeing her each year.
Reunion attendees, their years of service and current addresses were: Mable Holbrook Brown – 1945-1947 of Prestonsburg, Virginia Ann Adams Campbell – 1959-1963 of Allen, Jerry Bryan Lafferty – 1961-1965 of Prestonsburg, Phyllis Hall Burchett – 1962-1966 of Louisville, Susie Wright Gayheart – 1965-1967 of Eastern, Carol Jo Clark May – 1968-1972 of Allen, Sarah DeRossett – 1970-1972 of Durham, NC, Rebecca Warrix Lerman – 1977-1980 of Fayetteville, NY, Betty Taylor Davis, – 1985-1989 of Banner, Michelle Wilson Sword – 1982-1986, Pikeville, and Amanda Spradlin Anderson 1992-1996 of Fort Thomas.
In closing, the alumni would like to stress that each year the reunions have become more exciting and each has more fun than the year before, especially for those of us who perform, but, performance is not a requirement for alumni to attend our reunions! An itinerary listing all reunion activities accompanies our invitations. Alumni are encouraged to attend any and all events possible, especially those where group pictures are taken, such as the football games, parades, and banquets. Alumni are encouraged to bring memorabilia to the banquet to be displayed for all to see and enjoy.
Alumni are asked to contribute to reunion expenses and the Elizabeth Frazier Memorial Scholarship. We will accept contributions any time at P.O. Box 396, Allen, Ky. 41601. Scholarship contributions are presented to Greta Gilbert, PHS Music teacher, in November each year and recipients are announced before PHS graduations each year.
Plans are now being made for the upcoming Prestonsburg Christmas Parade! We hope to see many alumni there for a special time of twirling “lighted” batons! Make plans, also, to attend the next reunion in October 2016! As we always say, “March on!”
The 2015 Reunion planning committee consisted of Boots Adams, Phyllis Hall Burchett, Susie Wright Gayheart, Rebecca Warrix Lerman, and Carol Jo Clark May. For more information, contact Carol Jo May at 606-874-2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.