A Will to Leave a Mark

Students and directors discuss the $32,000 donation the band received.

Mikayla Miller and TaNayia Broadus

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On October 24, Hickman’s Marching Band received a $32,000 donation from a former administrator and band advocate, Gerald L. McCollum. The directors of the band had no word of the donation before this night and were pleasantly surprised when the amount was presented to them by Principal Tony Gragnani.

“I’m not gonna walk in here with a check for $32,000, but I’m also not creative enough to make a giant check for you, but you’ll get the money,” Gragnani exclaimed. Also present, James Melton, the fine arts coordinator for CPS, was a big part in the reception by introducing McCollum’s importance to the school.

McCollum started his career at Booneville High School before moving to Lebanon High School as an assistant principal, and finally in 1967 moving to Hickman as an assistant principal until his retirement 1982. During his retirement, he and his wife moved to Southwest Missouri in hopes of playing year round golf, but McCollum felt a strong urge to return to teaching. For ten years, McCollum travelled 46 miles daily to a town called Bergman, where he served as the band director before later retiring a second time.

McCollum passed away on November 4, 2016 at the age of 88. Leaving behind a whopping 32,000 to the HHS band program.

Marching band students were shocked that night at the marching band banquet. Positive murmurs spread throughout the room like wildfire.

“That’s THREE marimbas!” one student exclaimed as Gragnani waited for the room to settle down.
Roughly a month from that day, students were still reflecting on the grant.

“I was really excited and happy because it was really nice to feel like someone appreciated the Fine Arts program at Hickman,” Freshman Hannah Butler said. “This is really nice because there’s just so much that we can do with this money and it’s very helpful just to have this extra money in the budget.”

In a time of great accomplishment for the band and the directors, Hickman was rewarded with a great donation. Hickman’s band family gives a great thank you to McCollum and his family for the amazing act, and allowing so many things to be possible for our program. “Well deserved,” Mrs. Fernandez, the fine arts secretary noted.

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