TCPS dedicates music rooms to honor Jones and Leist - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

TCPS dedicates music rooms to honor Jones and Leist

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On Monday the Tazewell County School Board honored two past educators by dedicating music rooms at Graham High School and Tazewell High School.
Tazewell High School’s music room was named after Bea Leist, who founded Green T’s and arranged the Tazewell High Alma Mater. Leist’s two sons Robert McGraw, a current teacher at THS and Alan McGraw were on hand for the tribute Monday.
Leist received her Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters of Arts degree from Northeast Missouri State now Truman University. She served for 19 years at THS where she started many of the traditions the school still upholds today. She along with Rusty Hatfield, a former band director at THS put together many stage productions including Oklahoma.
“She loved music and was a great friend,” said Hatfield. “The students had wonderful experiences but Bea and I had fantastic ones.”
Hatfield went on the say that they made a joint music room it was no longer just a band room or choir room it was the music room.
“Bea had more music in her little finger than I do in my whole hand,” said Hatfield. “We shared the love of music and a great friendship.”
Some of the traditions at THS that Leist implemented was the singing of the Alma Mater throughout the halls on football Fridays. The Alma Mater is also the last piece of music the Green T’s sing at graduation.
“Mom always said it was the first thing she taught her choir students when they began Green T’s and it is still the last song that the Green T’s sing,” said Robert McGraw.
Following the honor at THS, several members of the Board went to Graham High School where current Vice-Chairman of the Board James “Jimmy” Jones was also being honored by naming of the music room.
GHS invited students to attend the ceremony, Principal John O’Neal put the ceremony in perspective for the students.
“He is a member of the School Board and a friend to Graham and Graham High School,” said O’Neal. “We are very happy to honor this band room with his name, we are also happy that his family is in attendance, School Board members, Bluefield Town Council members, and church members are also here.”
The ceremony was long deserved for the former band director, who also took the stage playing the saxophone with current GHS student Luke Hurley on drums as well as, James French and Mike Brown and several other band members to entertain the crowd with a jazz ensemble piece.
“My brother always said to get a job you would enjoy and I have done that,” said Jones. “I will say that every competition the Jazz Band entered they were undefeated, they won every contest that they entered.”
He also reflected back on many memories of his time as band director at GHS.
“Kids were always coming up with something unique, they would design different shows every week,” said Jones.
One of the more touching moments of the ceremony was when Mr. O’Neal informed Mr. Jones and other audience members that his daughter Melanie, who could not attend today’s dedication, sent a CD for her father. On the CD Melanie had played the arrangement “Dedication” to honor her father.
Both Leists’ and Jones’ plaques will be displayed at the entrance to their respected music rooms.
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