04/25/04 — GHS grad receives band letter

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GHS grad receives band letter

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 25, 2004 2:06 AM

Sharon McDowell-Vincent loved being a majorette, but one of the requirements was that squad members also had to play an instrument in the band. A French horn player was needed, so the Goldsboro Junior High School student signed up.

Every day, she walked over to Goldsboro High School for band practice with John D. Thompson. And most days, her mother sent her down to the railroad tracks near their home to practice.

But by the time she graduated from Goldsboro High in 1966, she played so well she was in the second seat for her section.

In those days, majorettes and band members received a cloth letter similar to those given to athletes. At graduation, Mrs. Vincent received one for being a majorette but the school ran short of the band letters and promised to mail it to her.

It never came.

And husband William Vincent said he has heard about it every time a parade or band comes on TV, ever time they watch the movie "Drum Line."

"Once you have been in something, it stays with you," Mrs. Vincent said.

So when school started this year, her husband decided to do something about it.

He approached the school's principal, Patricia Burden, with the idea of finding a way for his wife to finally get her letter.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea," Ms. Burden said. "Extra curricular activities are very important. When you have participated in a program that many years, you want all of the recognition that you deserve."

The task was not without challenges. A lot has happened since 1966 -- city and county schools have merged and along with it, the school colors and mascot changed. Plus finding the company that did the letters, identifying the appropriate one, and then having only one printed.

But it all came together and on Thursday, Vincent brought his wife to her alma mater under the premise that there was an orientation meeting.

"I didn't know what kind of orientation meeting, but I went along with it," Mrs. Vincent said.

The couple went into the school office, sat down, and then Vincent went to speak with Ms. Burden.

When Ms. Burden walked out with the framed letter in hand, Mrs. Vincent began to cry.

"This was a total shock," she said.

Vincent said Ms. Burden had been patient, kind and helpful to go along with the surprise for his wife.

"He's a romantic," Ms. Burden said. "He found a frame and helped us make it a really nice presentation."

She told Mrs. Vincent that she understood how important the band program had been to her.

"Whether it's 1966 or today, we want to recognize her by giving her a band letter," she said.

Mrs. Vincent was undecided about where she will display the long-overdue award but said she will treasure it forever.

"I joined the band because I wanted to be a majorette," she said. "But as years went by, that band letter was just as important as the majorette letter."