Spirit of St. Louis Band marches again

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - He dedicated his working life to music but even after Frank Harrell has retired, he's still using music to make a difference.

Members of the St. Louis High marching band gathers in the music room at school to practice Eye of the Tiger which is one of the songs they'll play when they march in the Epcot Parade at Disney World in a couple of weeks. It's a thrill especially considering that, though the school had a concert band, it's been years since they had a marching band. And it's, thanks to Frank Harrell who directed bands in the public schools for decades and then retired. But these days he has a new calling. " I love music. But I'm doing this because I know it can set values. It can set personalities on a path of positive living. I've always had a deep believe in students and what they can accomplish."

Ben Bernard says he and other students are learning so much from their veteran teacher. "Leadership, to never give up, to always push yourself to the limit."  Junior Jared Amiot agrees. "He doesn't ask much of us but when we do something he expects us to do it right and do it with dignity and discipline and just to take pride in everything we do." Bernard says Harrell is truly a positive influence on the students.  "I think he was definitely called by God to come to us and come help bring this band up."

And for Harrell, well, being here helping to teach and guide, what could be more satisfying? He says, "I don't feel younger but I feel young at heart because I'm still being a part of these young people's lives and watching them grow that is so much fun!"

Challenges lie ahead-- needs such as equipment, uniforms and expenses. But his faith gives him the confidence to march ahead.

For the first time in 25 years, the St. Louis band participated in District 5 Band and Orchestra Directors' Large Ensemble Festival this year. The band received a superior rating in performance.

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