Charles Henderson hosts first band reunion

Published 11:00 pm Friday, May 11, 2012

The Charles Henderson High School Alumni Band Association has “a tiger by the tail and is dedicated to not letting it go.”

And, with 100 alumni band members and counting grabbing hold, Pete Jordan said there’s little chance of that tiger getting away.

The CHHS Alumni Band Association had its first, of many to come, reunion dinners last Saturday night with 100 or more in attendance.

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“We were extremely pleased with the response for the first CHHS band reunion,” Jordan said. “The CHHS jazz band entertained and band students helped serve. The alumni had a wonderful time showing band pictures and sharing stories. We had a slide presentation of old band pictures. It was a great event.”

Jordan said the CHHS was organized in 1919 by Herman Moll and has the distinction of being the second oldest high school band program in the state. Moll received no salary. Instead, the students who were in the band paid for private lessons with him.

“Herman Moll was the band director for many years and his bands – the Troy High School bands – are the foundation of the CHHS band,” Jordan said. “We had several members of Herman Moll’s bands at the reunion dinner.”

Richard Beasley, who was the CHHS band director from 1961 until 1974, was the featured speaker for the inaugural alumni band reunion.

“Richard Beasley gave us a history lesson on the progress of the band program that included the story of how the CHHS band became known as the Blue Machine,” Jordan said. “In 1926, the first marching band made its debut, complete with drum majorettes. According to Beasley, the Blue Machine got its name when Moll hired an assistant with drum and bugle corps experience. Under his tutelage the students marched with precision.

“The band participated in a marching contest and it was said that they marched with such precision that they looked like a machine. They wore blue uniforms so the assistant director said the band looked, ‘Like a Blue Machine.’ The name stuck.”

A short meeting was held during the reunion dinner to highlight the purpose of the CHHS Alumni Band Association.

“The purpose of the alumni band is to support our band and collect and store the history of the band,” Jordan said. “The CHHS band program will celebrate 100 years in 2019. We are proud of the CHHS band and its legacy. We want to make sure that it is documented and recorded.”

Jordan said that the CHHS Alumni Band Association is open to everyone who was a member of the band throughout the years and also to supporters of the band.

“We invite the parents of former band members and other supporters of the band to join us,” Jordan said. “They were sometimes as much a part of the band as the students.”

Jordan said the tradition of excellence continues with the present day CHHS band program under the direction of Trent Burkett.

The band recently won top honors at a contest in St. Louis and has received an invitation to the Washington D.C. Festival of Gold, which will take place next spring.

“We have so much to be proud of in past bands and look forward to great things with this band and future bands at CHHS,” Jordan said.

For more information or to join the CHHS Alumni Band Association, contact Jordan at 334-372-7644 or via mail at