Tag Archives: lansing eastern high school

“We Were in the Band Together”

Quaker_band_1986_1Lansing is often referred to as a Little Big City. I think if you asked 5 people what that really means you probably would get 5 different answers. For me, it means there are enough big city activities such as museums, theater, and festivals to entertain the locals and make us feel we have a variety similar to any larger city on one hand. Then on the other you still feel your voice matters, you can get involved in a more intricate way and if you are out and about you run into people you know. This Saturday was a blaring example of this point. Since completing City Saunter and taking on the management of a creative space in REO Town, I have increased my presence down there, including hosting local events, helping with the festivals hosted by REO Town and being voted in as a board member of the REO Town Commercial Association. This means when something is going on down there I am usually present.IMG_7795p Yesterday was the 5th year of REO Town’s Art Attack event. It’s an amazing day spent creating art, listening to art, tasting art, buying art and watching art being created.IMG_7737f The smell of spray paint and the sounds of local bands is a given. This year one of the bands playing was Bastards of Young. I wasn’t familiar with the name but one of the band members was someone I was familiar with, Scott Owens. Some of you might know Scott from the band 19 Wheels.000_0809 But I know Scott from many years earlier when I entered Lansing Eastern High School for the first time as a freshman in 1984. I had signed up to play flute for the Lansing Eastern High School band and band camp was a month before school even started. I clearly remember my dad dropping me off in the high school parking lot that summer. I had no idea what I was doing. I found one of my middle school friends; Jennifer Foster (no relation) and she led me around, helping me load my bags into the buses and giving out instructions. She’d been through all of this with her siblings. I unfortunately was a first born and all of this was new to me. When it was time to get on a bus, I just picked one. I didn’t really know anyone so it didn’t matter to me much.  This bus only had seats in the back available and I somehow picked a row very near Scott and the senior drum major, Rip Kinne. They sang loud and proud to every song on Prince’s Purple Rain cd and by the time we arrived at the Ebersole Center I was well versed in all the band chants, Quaker cheers and “Let’s Go Crazy” was my new favorite song. This was the very beginning of turning into a band geek. These Quakers became family as I spent more time with them through four years of camps, practices, games, class time, parades, and trips out of state than my actual family. It was probably because of how much time we spent together that these years still mean a great deal to me. Some of my closest friendships formed through the band.File1603File1629File1605 File1928So when I found out that not only was my old drum major playing at Art Attack but three other fellow Quakers (two of which were in the band with us), I immediately sent out a social media post that some Quakers were in the house. Soon we had collected six other Quakers (3 of which were in the band together) to rock out to our friends performing on stage. To add to the fun, we ran into our band director, Jack Mike, who had come out to watch the guys play. Some 30 years after we were all in the band together we had met up again to enjoy a wonderful #lovelansing event on a gorgeous Michigan day. IMG_7837rIMG_7824kIMG_0856IMG_7865sTo me that’s what makes Lansing so great. I can head out to enjoy an exciting festival and still find a handful of old friends and memories, overlapping, year after year, event after event. The weaving of these encounters; remembering who we were, embracing where we are and anticipating who we will become, only reinforces my love for this little big city I call home.

School of Thought

Every once in a while I get a media call about my project. In fact I’ve only had to solicit a media source once. It really gives me an opportunity to communicate my ideas, findings, plans and adventure to a population that might not be following my progress. At least that’s what I hope for! Today’s walk was a media interview. I’ve been interviewed by this young woman once before and found her very enjoyable. Emanuele is the news director of the award winning college radio station WDBM 89.9 FM. Last time we took an interview walk was for this station. Since then Emanuele has broaden my project’s scope by including it in the UPIO.com website. Today’s interview will be shown on MSU’s student television station, Focal Point.
Despite both of us graduating from Lansing Eastern High School we met up at J.W. Sexton. There is a fierce debate going on in Lansing about which of these two locally significant schools should be closed to ease the burden of the Lansing School District. Even though Eastern is my preferred school, it’s easy to see that Sexton holds the same accolades for this west side of town. Even as an Eastern student I have a strong relationship with Sexton. Eastern doesn’t have its own football field. While I attended school there and participated in the marching band we always played our home games at the Sexton field. I’ve had many, many memories right there at the Sexton field. It would be hard to imagine this school not being a school. It would also be difficult to imagine this school hosting both Big Reds and Quakers. I’ve walked through neighborhoods where the school has shut their doors. It creates such barrenness to the area, almost like a tombstone in a cemetery. There’s something exhilarating about a school ground full of screaming kids; playing and learning. It always makes me smile while I take my walks. It would be discouraging to have another abandoned school, sitting vacant while the neighborhood deteriorates from its own loneliness. But for now, the school sits open with its resources as a school available to those eager to use them. For me, today, it resulted in a pleasant walk, in a pleasant neighborhood around the J.W. Sexton High School.