Get together | Highlands NC History

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Written by: Donna Rhodes | Problem: 2021/12 – December

This year, the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade will vibrate to the rhythm of a tradition dear to the city.


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Art educators got the wheel when Education’s Bigwigs in Washington announced a few years ago that the arts were steeped in high-level thinking.

Finally, music, visual arts and the performing arts have been recognized as more than just a recreation hour.

But wait a second! Does that mean that music is like math? Yes, there is even math in it. And visual art too. Tons of that. And problem solving galore. Try to determine the relationship between eighth notes and dotted sixteenth notes in a 5/4 time measure. When drawing a hallway in perspective, it’s best to have a ruler handy and an understanding of proportions and vanishing points (which weren’t even understood until the 1400s). This is why the Greeks gave the Arts an equal status with Mathematics, Philosophy, Sciences. And we’re just starting to re-appreciate the importance of it all.

Highlands may snap a few buttons on his jacket because he has always been a strong supporter of the arts. In 1954, marching bands were blaring from the top of our mountain when the Highlands School’s first orchestral program was launched. It faltered a bit and was straightened out in 1989 as a hardcore, fully orchestrated band. Its director, Kathy Teem, debuted in a trailer with a set of 13 students. Imagine the horns and screams echoing around a 20’x30 ‘laptop. It was like a baby’s first whimper followed by gasps and farts and cooing – then harmonies and melodious rat-tats in just four weeks… okay, four months… well, just in time for a Christmas parade anyway.

In the year 2000, the group would have more than 200 college and high school members. The school, students and parents were delighted with this accomplishment.

But in 1989, it was the city of Highlands that benefited the most. The Christmas Parade (initiated by the Highlands Merchant Association) has so far been fun to see. However, it sounded like a quiet, dragging funeral song. But when the Highlands School Band bass and snare kicked in, the cones and clarinets sounding, the whole town came to attention, a smile on every face, a toe tapping in every. shoe.

So when you see the local bands marching down Main Street in this year’s Christmas Parade, cheer them on. It’s an incredible group of young people. Everyone will believe until the end of their life that Band was not just a music group. It was a family.

Learn more about Highland families by reading Ran Shaffner’s Heart of the Blue Ridge, a remarkable tome that can be borrowed from local libraries and purchased at highlandshistory.com. For more information visit [email protected].


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