Big 4 alumni celebrate legendary band directors

Big 4 alumni celebrate legendary band directors
April 30
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle- Mary Carpenter and Rudolph Valentino Boone Sr. listen as members of the Carver High School Alumni Association speak during the Dedication of Band Rooms celebration on Saturday, April 25.)

By Tevin Stinson, For The Chronicle

When you hear band director, most people just think of a teacher of music.

But for the former directors Rudolph V. Boone of Carver, Bernard T. Foy of Paisley, and Henry D. Wheeler of Atkins (now home of Winston-Salem Prepatory Academy), it was a lot more than just music. It was their way of giving their students lessons that would help them be successful in all aspects of life.

After a lot of lobbying from Beverly Williams and of The Big 4 Alumni Association of Forsyth County Inc., on Saturday, April 25, the three schools held a dedication program at Carver High School to rename the band rooms in honor of the legendary directors, who combined had over 90 years of service.

“They taught us to never walk in anyone’s shadow,” Williams said. “They insisted on perfection.”

The Big 4 — Atkins, Anderson, Carver and Paisley high schools —  represent the four high schools in Winston-Salem that were for African-American students only because of segregation. Although they were rivals then, The Big 4 Alumni Association represents the graduates of these four schools and is dedicated to supporting youth through scholarship and community outreach.

As people started to fill into the auditorium, laughs and joyous chatter began to echo through the room. Renee Vaughn, co-host of the Tom Joyner morning show and Carver alumnus, was the mistress of ceremony and was delighted to host the event.

“If feels great to be at my alma mater,” she said. “It was a long time ago since I walked these halls, but coming here today brought back so many memories.”

The program began with a slide show of pictures from the directors’ tenures. A number of people in the audience even saw themselves in pictures, some even said aloud the names of classmates they saw in pictures who weren’t in attendance.

A number of former students of the legendary directors reminisced about their experiences and how they impacted their lives. George Johnson of Winston-Salem had the pleasure of being taught by both Boone and Wheeler and was quick to remind the crowd of it.

“Not many people can say they were taught by more than one of these legends, so I guess I have a little more bragging rights than everybody else,” Johnson said.

The program included performances by The New South Brass, directed by Gary Hasting; The Healing Force; Keith Boyd and Friends Jazz Ensemble; and The Big 4 Choir, directed by Eddie Bines. Nell Davis Britton and Gary Hasting also had special solo performances.

Tickets were sold at the door for $25, with proceeds (after all expenses are paid) to benefit scholarships and other community projects of The Big 4 Alumni Association of Forsyth County Inc., which sponsored the event.

Dr. Beverly Emory, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, also attended.

She said she believes that we need more educators to adapt the morals as Boone, Foy and Wheeler.

“This is more than some names on a building,” Emory said. “These men were more than teachers; they were difference-makers.”

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