We’re staying in the 90’s for Throwback Thursday this week, honoring the Lassiter H.S. Trojan Marching Band and their director for more than 30 years, Alfred Watkins. At their third ever Grand National appearance, the Lassiter band won the 1998 Bands of America Grand National Championship. The 1998 event marked the beginning of the 12-band finals tradition that continues today at Grand Nationals.
Utilizing Jerry Goldsmith’s music from the 1975 film “The Wind and the Lion,” Lassiter enchanted the RCA Dome crowd with virtuosic woodwind runs and a beautiful Oboe solo. Just watching the show again today on MFA Video, I was blown away by the incredible student achievement, even 15 years later.
The tradition of achievement continued at Lassiter H.S. for many years under the baton of Alfred Watkins, even earning a second Grand National Championship in 2002. The Lassiter band not only enjoyed success on the marching band field, but also in the auditorium, attending the National Concert Band Festival three times and the Midwest Clinic four times. The Lassiter band received the Sudler Shield for Marching Excellence and the Sudler Flag of Honor, and Alfred Watkins was inducted into the BOA Hall of Fame in 2008.
Watkins has also trained many of the finest music educators at clinics across the nation such as the MFA Summer Symposium and as educators in his program at Lassiter. Dr. Catherine Sinon Bushman served as an assistant director at Lassiter from 1998 - 2007. She has just joined the faculty of the St. Cloud State University Department of Music and will even be adjudicating at the Texas Dairy Queen® Bands of America Regional Championship at Dallas-Fort Worth this weekend!
Alfred Watkins retired from Lassiter H.S. this past spring, and the Lassiter Band produced an incredible video highlighting his impact on music education in Lassiter, Cobb County, Georgia and the nation.