Fund-raising efforts are in full force now that the Letcher County Central High School Marching Band and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet Honor Guard have accepted an invitation to march in the 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C.
“Obviously something like this is monumental,” said Dr. Jason Griffith, LCCHS band director. “What a wonderful history lesson for these students to be a part of. This is all about our children.”
Letcher Schools Supt. Anna Craft estimates that at least $70,000 needs to be raised between now and the January 21 parade. Sandy Hogg, district director of special programs, said $15,000 must be paid by December 27.
The Letcher County Central High School ensemble is made up of 71 band students and six ROTC students. The estimated cost of expenses for each student is about $800, which includes hotel costs, busing and most meals. Students are scheduled to tour one of the Smithsonian Institute museums and take an evening walking tour of the Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam War, Martin Luther King Jr. and World War II memorials. The group is also scheduled to participate in a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Students will also visit the Marine Corps Memorial (also called the Iwo Jima Memorial) and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
The Letcher County Board of Education met in special session on December 23 to approve the trip from January 19 until January 22.
Keith Kincer, whose daughter will be twirling a baton in the parade, became emotional when he thanked the board for its efforts to get the group to Washington.
Louise Murtaugh, whose son will also be marching in the parade, said being invited to perform in the Presidential Inaugural Parade is one of the highest honors.
“When they march down Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s not just them, it’s us, too,” said Murtaugh. “ We so much appreciate every donation.”
Board Member John Spicer remarked on how far the band has come since LCCHS first opened in 2006 and few members participated.
“It’s going to echo all over the world,” said Spicer.
Dan Brennan, LCC’s assistant band director, told the board that the current band consists of 15 seniors and is made up of “a once in a lifetime” group.
Officials said a total of 2,807 bands submitted online applications, and that LCC’s band is one of 42 groups chosen by the parade task force to participate. For President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, 1,400 organizations applied and the parade included 10,000 marchers from every state, according to the New York Times.
“ The talented groups chosen to participate in the inaugural parade reflect the spirit, values and diversity of our great nation,” Obama said in a prepared statement after the LCC band was selected.
Governor Steve Beshear sent a letter of recommendation to accompany the application for the LCCHS band and ROTC students.
“Not only did he do that, he told them he had personally watched them perform,” said Craft.
State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, State Rep. Leslie Combs and State Rep. John Short also sent recommendations after watching the band perform in May during the opening of the Letcher County Area Technology Center.
Craft said accounts have been set up at both Community Trust Bank and Whitaker Bank for people to donate for the Washington, D.C. trip. People can make donations at any of the banks in Letcher County.
Checks can be made out to LCCHS Band and mailed to 224 Park Street, Whitesburg, Ky, 41858.