by Celine Roberts
Unite Guest Writer
Springfield, MO —Unity, community and family. Three words known deeply by our very own Central High School Kiltie Drum & Bugle Corps. A 90-year tradition, punctuated by an impressive history of strong young women destined to make notable changes in our community, continues to reach new heights and give us a whole lot to be proud of. Their dedication to their craft, each other, our community, and what it means to be a Kiltie is remarkable and also an absolute joy to watch. Whether it is watching them march to the beat of their drums and the trumpeting of their horns, swaying back and forth to the sound of their music, or enjoying the unabashed unity of these young women, we can’t help but thoroughly appreciate this beloved organization.
According to With Kiltie Love, the corps was founded in 1926, and has been a home to many young women looking for a place to feel proud, accomplished and appreciated. It was in the 1960’s when the Kilties integrated, making Ms. Anna Hayford the first African American woman to become a Kiltie in 1964. An inspiration, Ms. Hayford paved the way for many who sought to find their place in the corps, encouraging young African American women of Springfield to follow their dreams no matter the odds or obstacle.
Patricia Looney from the class of 1967, became another young woman to lead by example as one of the 1st African Americans to become a Kiltie after Anna Hayford, and in August of this year was presented an award for her achievements by Central High’s newest Majorette, Gabrielle Mills, an inspiring young African American woman and one of Central High School’s “kiltie 4-year girls”.
“Gabby’s job as Majorette is really hard”, says Jessica Freeman, Central High School’s head Kiltie Advisor, “She is responsible for organizing all of the instrumental captain’s and designing the performances. She is the face of the corps and she has to make a lot of hard decisions.”
Gabrielle Mills is a hard working senior with a lot on her plate, but she has an excellent grasp of her responsibilities as a leader, “…it’s forced me to obtain more time management, leadership skills, communication skills, and taught me more about who I am as an individual”, Ms. Mills says. “Kilties has been amazing for me during High school because it’s such a unique organization.”
Not only has Ms. Gabby Mills had the opportunity to show her skill-set as a strong leader, but Central High has been honored to have elected two more powerful young women to lead. Ms. Makayla McCrimmons, Snare Captain, and Ms. Teirnae Legendre, Tenor Captain are sharing the weight of the leadership responsibilities alongside Gabby. “Kilties is such a great experience and you take a lot from it. You gain all of these amazing friendships and you get to do amazing things in your community”, says Makayla, having joined the Kilties because of family tradition and her desire to “get her hands on those drums!” Also chiming in on the benefits of being a Kiltie is Teirnae, or “T” as everyone calls her, saying, “Being a Central High School kiltie has made both freshman and sophomore year very exciting and a very wonderful experience. Also, it helps me focus on my grades.”
These inspiring, up-and-coming young women are paving even more avenues for young Central High School women through their continued effort to strive for success.
Having three incredible African American students as the leaders within Kiltie organization for the first time in the programs history is a yet another step in the right direction for young women everywhere. This organization is a group of young women from all types of backgrounds who have bonded together to form a sisterhood, making memories and laying the ground work for a better society as a whole. They have even implemented a “big sister, little sister” mentoring aspect of their corps. Each seasoned Kiltie is paired with a new recruit. They lean on each other for support, the “big sister” showing the “little sister” the ropes, helping to build stronger foundations for all of the girls involved. No one is left out.
The Kilties contribution to the community includes: packed meals for Meals a Million, participation in Hunger-thon, participation in outreach programs and nursing home performances. That’s not all they do, though. The Kilties are privately funded, therefore work extremely hard to raise money for their organization. So that they can continue their mission, they work at the school concession stands during school games and Springfield Cardinals games, as well as host fundraisers. “One of the main values of our corps is we have to work for what we want, no one is going to give it to us. They work hard and earn everything for themselves”, says Freeman.
Finding value in the work of the Kilties is not difficult. Their commitment to their program, each other and the community is awe-inspiring. Thank you Kilties for setting the standard for excellence. We applaud you.
To become more involved with the Central High School Kiltie Drum & Bugle Corps, email Jessica Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or come show your support by joining them at their next parade events:
Nov. 29, 2016 – Mt. Vernon Christmas parade
Dec. 3, 2016 – Greenfield, Buffalo and Seymour Christmas
Dec. 4, 2016 – Nixa and Branson Christmas
Dec. 10, 2016 – Springfield Christmas
For more information about the Kiltie Drum & Bugle Corps origins and future plans, please visit https://withkiltielove.wordpress.com