Music wasn’t Jeff Whitlow’s first love as an Austin High School student.
Back in 1977 when Whitlow was a senior, he devoted his free time more to basketball and baseball.
So he was surprised when his band, “Jeff Whitlow and the Old Barn Band” was asked to headline Austin’s 50th anniversary celebration and homecoming Thursday through Saturday.
“I was floored when they called me and asked me to perform,” said Whitlow, who played his song, “Headin’ to Montgomery Again,” at Gov. Bob Riley’s 2007 inauguration.
“I’m sure there are a lot of people from 50 years of the school who would be excited to play,” he said.
Senior sponsor Susan Thompson said the school tripled its traditional homecoming activities to celebrate the anniversary.
“We just wanted to have a party for alumni and everyone who has ever been associated with the school,” Thompson said.
The celebration begins Thursday with the 2 p.m. traditional homecoming assembly. The parade from Banks-Caddell Elementary to the Old State Bank Building starts at 5:30. A pep rally will follow.
Former Austin principals and deceased principals' surviving family will be parade grand marshals.
The athletic booster club will hold a tailgate party prior to Friday’s game against Hazel Green at Ogle Stadium. Band Director Clay Sloan said an alumni band dinner will be held at 5 p.m. Members of the 1983 football team that went 13-1 and finished second in the state will be honorary captains at the game.
The school will recognize former homecoming queens, cheerleaders and band members prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff. Alumni cheerleaders will do a cheer with the current squad.
One of five seniors in the Queen’s Court — LaKelle Brawley, Kennedi Bridgeforth, Sarah Nekoufar, Taylor Sandlin or Courtney Turner — will be crowned at halftime.
A list of activities are planned for Saturday, starting with 7:30 a.m. mile, 2-mile and 5K runs. Registration starts at 6 a.m.
Breakfast is served at 8 in the cafeteria, followed by campus tours until noon.
At 9 a.m. is a reception for former teachers in the library. JROTC will hold an alumni gathering at 9:30.
The Black Bear Jam will begin at 4 p.m. on the school’s front lawn, featuring musical acts, food venders, blow-up games for children and a classic car cruise-in.
Whitlow, who began as a karaoke singer in college, said his band covers mainly traditional country from artists such as Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and Porter Wagoner. The band includes 1982 graduate Dr. Mike Thompson.
“We’ll play a good mix of music that even some who aren’t country fans will like,” Whitlow said. “We might even throw in a gospel song.”
Whitlow is performing for free and paying his band himself as a donation to his alma mater. The school hopes to put any money raised toward a new digital message board, Thompson said.
Not registered? Click here
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|