Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014
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Packer’s DuJuan Harris wants band to play on at Central High


Published:   |   Updated: August 24, 2014 at 12:38 PM

DuJuan Harris felt an adrenaline rush whenever he scored a touchdown as a Central High School Bear.

Of course the school’s band always kicked in just after he crossed the goal line, further lifting the home team’s spirits.

Now entering his fourth NFL season, Harris, a running back for the Green Bay Packers, heard troubling news from home recently when a friend told him the music program at his alma mater was cut.

“The band played a big part in all the jamborees, football games, basketball games and all through sports,” Harris said Thursday, a day before the Packers were set to play a preseason home game at Lambeau Field against the Oakland Raiders.

“I just think it should be a part of all the school programs,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty quiet, and not as entertaining.”

Additionally, Harris said, he had a high school friend whose band participation helped him attend Florida A&M University.

In June, more than a dozen students, former students, teachers and parents addressed the Hernando County School Board to lament Central High’s loss of its music program and the possibility of other schools losing theirs.

That month, a five-person task force of elementary, middle and high school educators dedicated to maintaining and bolstering music programs throughout the county began meeting.

Michael Maine, principal at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Math, is facilitator of the task force.

While allocations for music programs are needed to pay instructors and buy instruments, books and other items, Maine said the most important factor in maintaining a school’s music program is interest among students.

When the task force met last month, Central was the only high school in the county without a music program, Maine said, adding that each middle school in the county has a music program and only a few elementary schools do not.

“We are working on having the high school programs go out to middle schools and perform for graduating fifth-graders, and talk to them about band, chorus, theater and other programs,” Maine said.

“Interest is the biggest thing. You have to have the interest to have the program.”

Central High students interested in participating in a music program this year were allowed to transfer to a school that has one, he said.

The task force is scheduled to meet again next month.

Harris said he hopes parents and educators can find a way to resurrect the music program at Central. He remembers the band selling candy bars and holding car washes to raise money for the program.

“It’s for their children and their future,” he said. “With technology the way it is nowadays, kids can’t get away from the phone and other stuff. Shoot, they need to be active.”

In November, Central High will retire Harris’ high school jersey at a home football game.

There will be fans in the stands, cheerleaders shaking pom-poms and possibly loudspeakers playing recorded music. But there will be no group of teenagers under the lights, playing real instruments to boost the crowd’s — and the players’ — enthusiasm.

“It’s not going to be the same without that,” Harris said.

gfox@tampatrib.com

(352) 544-5283

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