Photo by Michael Buckelew
The Rockdale County High School marching band now has an edge over the competition thanks to the work of one local Eagle Scout.
Conyers resident Eric Richardson built a 39-foot tall band tower in the practice area at Bonner Park as his Eagle Scout project. The tower features two levels for band leaders to view the musicians, whose performances are highly choreographed.
Rockdale County High School Band Director Scott Stanton couldn't be more pleased.
"We are a competitive band so it allows us to see what our students are doing or not doing as far as formations," Scott said.
Prior to the construction of the band tower, band leaders only had a slightly elevated platform from which to view the students. Stanton said the improved vantage point allows him to see the band as a whole better and to focus on different individual sections.
"It's a good instructional tool for us," Stanton said. "I saw an immediate difference in what we were able to do as a result of the tower."
A Rockdale County High School senior, Richardson played trumpet in the marching band for four years. He said he thought it would be a "great idea to build something bigger and better" than the existing band platform.
Richardson conferred with Stanton, whom he'd had as a teacher in middle school.
"He had faith in me that I could get this done," Richardson said.
Richardson enlisted the aid of his scout master Howard Baker, an architect, who helped him develop the plans for his vision. Contractor Tom Hurt, the parent of a scout in Richardson's troop, showed the teen how to meet the specifications of the project, which had to be approved before and after completion by the city of Conyers. He also provided all of the tools and equipment for the job.
"I probably couldn't have gotten it done without him," Richardson said of Hurt.
Georgia Power and Snapping Shoals both contributed to the erection of four power poles at the site, which served as the frame for the tower. Ace Hardware donated materials. Richardson himself raised about $2,000 to fund the project.
Richardson said that constructing the tower, which took place over a period of three weeks in July and August, proved fun. He and about 10 other scouts provided the manpower.
The most difficult part of the project?
"The paperwork was the worst, just to get around the boundaries," said Richardson of having to obtain building permits.
A member of Troop 354, which meets in a scout cabin just behind Conyers First United Methodist Church, Richardson joined scouting at 8 years old. He enjoyed the camping adventures as a youngster. His troop has hiked the Appalachian Trail throughout Georgia and South Carolina.
As a teenager, he earned the Triple Crown Award for participating in three Boy Scout High Adventure Camps in North America back to back. Each lasting about two weeks, the High Adventure Camps have taken him canoeing in Canada, backpacking for 80 miles in New Mexico and sailing off the coast of the Florida Keys.
"I get to experience more than the average person since I'm in scouting," Richardson said.
Stanton said he's watched Richardson grow and mature over the years into a responsible and reliable individual.
"He is the type of person who is very dedicated, hard working and wants to make sure things are done right, not just done," Stanton said.