“ . . . rejoice, and sing praise.”
(Psalm 98:4 KJV)
“It was impressive,” Bob Dagley said. He could have been talking about the amazing Gibbs High School basketball team he coached fifty years ago. But this time, he was talking about Ronald Rogers and the bands at Farragut. After all these years, Dagley vividly recalls the moment: “At a Friday night football game, Ronald had the Farragut Middle School Band march around the football field before making their entrance into the stands. Then, the Farragut High School Band marched around the field and made their entrance into the stands.” Coach Dagley was an assistant principal when Rogers first became band director at Farragut. According to Dagley, the bands made quite an impression that night. The director did, too.
I was not surprised at Dagley’s comments, because I knew Ronald from years earlier. When we were growing up, our families attended Fairview Baptist Church where his mother, Georgella, worked in the nursery with our mother. Even as a youngster, Ronald seemed serious and determined. When I talked to him recently, it seemed nothing had changed. Now entering his thirtieth year of teaching, he has had a remarkable career in public education. Ronald taught one year at Rutledge High School in Grainger County before moving to Knox County where he taught four years at Doyle High School and twenty-two years at Farragut. He is now in his third year at William Blount High School in Blount County. At this writing, the band director was extremely busy getting ready for the Gatlinburg parade and an upcoming concert. Rogers has served as the immediate past president of the Tennessee Music Education Association.
The director has “come home” to Clapp’s Chapel United Methodist Church. Ronald grew up between Harbison’s Crossroads and Clapp’s Chapel and even attended the Chapel during his high school years. The members of the Chapel recognized his talent, and he served as their choir director for three years while attending the University of Tennessee (UT). “Many of the members who supported me thirty years ago are back in the choir,” Ronald said. Not only does Ronald have ties to the church, he has known Clapp’s Chapel’s pastor, Rev. Sam Johnson, since the late seventies. As a trombone player in high school, Ronald played with a group for Easter at First Lutheran Church in Knoxville while Sam Johnson was the choir director at the church. While in college at UT, this pastor and choir director both played in the UT band. Rev. Johnson, a trumpeter, was featured in an earlier Focus column. Ronald graduated from Gibbs High School in 1978 with Rev. Johnson’s brother-in-law, Kerry Hackney.
Ronald Rogers invites everyone to come and join the Christmas celebration as they practice on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. and present the program on Sunday, December 22, at 11:00 a.m. “Under Rogers’ leadership, the choir has doubled,” Dave Wright told me. “It’s like getting free singing lessons!” I wonder if the pastor and choir director might even bring out those beautiful brass instruments and treat the congregation to a special rendition of “Silent Night.” Come and celebrate Christmas in a special way this year—at the Chapel. You will be blessed!