News Release: Valdosta High School
Updated: March 17, 2014
A new press release including pictures and updated information has been attached.
News Release: Valdosta High School
VALDOSTA, GA. -- Former members of the Valdosta High School Marching Cats who participated during the award winning years that brought national attention to the program are on a nationwide hunt to locate as many of their peers as possible in time for a reunion slated for March 28-29.
Since July 2013, key organizers of the reunion formed a committee and have conducted an exhaustive search to find as many former members who played or performed in the Marching Cats, and for this reunion, especially those who participated during the years from 1962 to 1977. That’s when now retired Director Frank Butenschon and a crack staff of co-directors led the band to win several nationally recognized awards, including the famous Greatest Band In Dixie contest in New Orleans.
Although the 50th Anniversary of Butenschon’s arrival at VHS and the beginnings of the “Marching Cats” in 1962 already has passed, former members decided a celebration of that historic landmark should not go by without a reunion, even if it was into 2014 before a worthy event could be arranged.
Paramount in the organizers’ efforts is the campaign to locate as many former participants from that era and any other former Marchin’ Cat, to make sure they know about this month’s reunion. Also organizers want the members’ information to be placed in a reunion booklet to be available at the event, and for future communications and reunions, committee member Karen Lyons Pierce said.
“As you can imagine, there were no lists of names to work with, so we have been digging up names from all the VHS Sandspurs (annuals), checking for their contact information through the Valdosta City Schools Alumni Book, phone books, Internet searches, our Facebook contacts, personal mailing, emailing and phone calls,” said Pierce (Class of ‘73).
Still there are hundreds of names that the searchers have yet to locate or reach. One problem is many alumnus fail to keep their location updated with the school system after their graduation, said Pierce.
“We quite possibly have reached only one quarter of our former Marchin’ Cats even with all this effort, so we are extending the deadline for registrations to March 15,” she said. “But even with our limited reach so far, we are thrilled at this point to have received close to 100 paid registrations with more promised to come in soon.”
Reunion organizers hope to spread the word throughout the region to find as many former members as can be found with just weeks to go until the event.
“What we really are hoping is that folks who see this will reach out to their friends, relatives and acquaintances who were Marchin’ Cats or who knew other Marchin’ Cats, so that we can reach every Marchin’ Cat across the country -- not only to invite them to the reunion -- but, importantly, to at least get them to send in their contact information, email especially, and briefly answer a couple of questions, such as ‘What have you been up to since you graduated?’ and ‘What has being a Marchin’ Cat meant to you?’” Pierce said. The organizers have set up a fantastic web site for the event at www. marchincatsreunion.com. There visitors can find a treasure trove of information, including photographs, videos and audio files from the Marchin’ Cats’ Championship Years, as they’ve become known.
The web site was started by Marchin’ Cat Class of ‘73 Member Paul Nelson, a trumpeter who now calls South Carolina home. Butenschon -- “Mr. B,” as he became known -- and wife Susan today live on Dykes Pond in Lake Park, Ga. Both say they’re very excited about the reunion and the chance to give appreciation to the hundreds of participants and supporters who made those Championship Years possible. “This (reunion) isn’t all about me,” Butenschon said. “There were a lot of other people who made this legacy possible -- so many who were indispensable. I never hired anybody who wasn’t smarter than me.”
More from The Butenschons is coming in subsequent releases. Meanwhile, those who need information on the reunion can contact Pierce at email@example.com or 229-300-0345, or Carole Stembridge Ausum at 229-251-3604.