Whites Creek band alumni return for TSU parade - WSMV News 4

Whites Creek band alumni return for TSU parade

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Tennessee State University is tuning up for its annual homecoming parade, and the event is also a homecoming for a man who changed children's lives while bringing music to a new school.

Robert Churchwell Jr. still has his chops. The former band director who started the music program at Whites Creek High School is reuniting with alumni to march in the TSU homecoming parade this weekend.

"They had to go work out to get back into shape, because marching is very strenuous. So we started in June, and here we are," Churchwell said.

His legacy dates back to 1979 when Churchwell and 80 dedicated students formed what has become known as the Band of Distinction.

"So we started the band in the front of the school with no band room at all," he said.

Churchwell brought his high-stepping talents as a member of the TSU Aristocrat of Bands to teach much more than music to the students he calls his children, while serving as band director from 1979 to 1991.

"Music has math, science and English integrated into it. And I made sure they knew that, so they could apply that to the classrooms," Churchwell said.

The legacy Churchwell leaves behind is that generations of students are walking out the doors at Whites Creek to pursue some big dreams.

Alumni band members, now dressed for success as ministers, principals, teachers, lawmakers and corporate leaders, are reuniting to join the celebration at TSU and pay tribute to a man that impacted their lives.

"I've been blessed. As Paul Harvey would say, 'the rest of the story.' Many teachers don't get a chance to see how their students turn out," Churchwell said.

The TSU homecoming parade begins Saturday at 9 a.m. near the Gentry Center on Walter S. Davis Boulevard.

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