A reluctant outing turns into a real treat

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 9, 2008

By Harold Keller

Monday morning at P.J.’s, a group of ladies were enjoying coffee and conversation.  I stopped by their table just to say hello and Mrs. Merin Templet invited me to a band concert at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School.  Before I could answer, she continued talking and, finally, said, “Why don’t you come?”  I, sarcastically, said, “If you quit talking, I’ll answer your question.”  I continued, “I think I’ll do that.”  

I know she doubted that I would go, but if someone thinks enough of me to invite me to hear their children perform, I try to attend.

It was only three weeks ago that some friends of mine invited me to a piano recital in which their daughter’s students were performing.  Believe me, I wasn’t excited about going, but I did and enjoyed it.

Wednesday night, I really didn’t feel like going to a grammar school band concert.  I could only imagine fourth through eighth graders making noise and me leaving early.

Let me say that I know nothing about music, but can discern when something is good or bad.  

I arrived at the school and sat next to Judge Sterling Snowdy as the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders began playing.  Judge Snowdy asked me who I had in the band.  “Nobody,” I said.  “I was invited by a proud mother.”  He looked puzzled.

The senior band (sixth through eighth graders) followed and was excellent.

It didn’t take long for me to know that both groups were very good.

“Who’s the band director?” I asked the judge.  “J. R. Miller from Baton Rouge,” he answered.  

The next day, I called my friend, Principal Larry Bourgeois, to congratulate him and ask him a few questions about the band.  He told me that Mr. Miller taught at Catholic High in Baton Rouge for 20 years.  He then taught in the public school system for two years, but missing the atmosphere of a Catholic school, he answered an ad in the Baton Rouge Advocate and applied for the job.

    The band founder, Mr. James Assenihemener, started the band eight years ago.  He is retired and lives in LaPlace.  

Mr. Bourgeois shared that the band traveled to Disney World for Thanksgiving and played at the Magic Kingdom, where they received a trophy for a Superior rating.      

At Christmas, they received a rating of Excellent at Nicholls State University as they participated in the Southeast Louisiana District competition.

It was a blessing for me to see the children, hear the music, and watch Mr. Miller conduct the band with a passion for teaching young students to appreciate the gift of music.  

The next day, I stopped at P.J.’s to thank Mrs. Templet for inviting me.  She wasn’t there, but I found out that she had a son and daughter in the band.  Mrs. Dara Spillman, one of the mothers in the group, told me she, too, had a son and daughter in the band.  Mrs. Tricia Angelette, a regular in the group, proudly said, “I also have one in the band.     

I am grateful that Mrs. Templet took the initiative to invite me to an evening of being entertained and educated on one of the cultural developments in our community.

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: hkeller@comcast.net.