Former PCHS Band Director to be memorialized
Friday will be a special night in Paden City as the Paden City Foundation and the Paden City Alumni Association will unveil the R.E. “Ed” Hood Fine Arts Wing at Paden City High School during a special ceremony at halftime of the Wildcat Homecoming football game on Berger Field.
The popular PCHS Alumni Spirit Band will also be making an appearance. The project to rename the portion of the school building that houses the music and arts departments has been underway for a little more than a year and the two organizations have been raising funds to bring this project to fruition. The sign and brass lettering designating the hall will be presented on the field at halftime just prior to the coronation ceremonies for the Homecoming queen. The multi-purpose building will also be re-named the Jesse Brown Memorial Hall and plans are to complete that by July 2015.
The hall is being re-named in honor of Hood, who served as the school’s band director from 1956 to 1981. During his tenure, the Wildcat Band rose to a level of prominence as a premier marching and concert band. On a competitive level, the Wildcat Marching band was widely known for its innovative halftime and competition shows and amassed an array of awards and championships that was unmatched by other bands during that time. The band was known for its marching precision, musical aptitude, and range and entertaining style that earned high praise from judges and audiences alike and was known throughout West Virginia and neighboring states as “the band to beat.”
The band, during Hood’s years at PCHS, made appearances from Pennsylvania to Georgia in marching and concert shows and contests and averaged well over 100 students each year. At one point, there were 136 students in the band (grades nine through 12), from a school that averaged 320 in total enrollment. The marching band won numerous Grand Championships, including multiple Championships of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Festival Band-a-Rama and the coveted Grand Championship of the Marietta Band-a-Rama, Ohio’s oldest marching band competition.
The concert band annually received superior ratings at the state festival, normally held in Clarksburg, and also received Superior ratings at Bands of America in Atlanta, Ga. The Wildcats also marched in the national Lions Club convention parade in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the late 1960’s The Stage Band was named State Champions three times under Hood’s direction and placed in the top three every year from 1970 until 1980. These championships and many others were garnered against bands representing schools of all sizes and classes.
Because of its huge size from a “small school” and its big sound, the Paden City High School Wildcat Band became known as the “Biggest Little Band in the Land,” a nickname it retains to this day. One of Hood’s famous quotes was, “I just like taking a band from a small school and bustin’ up the big guys,” referring to the many defeats the band dealt to larger bands and bands from much larger schools. Even though the PCHS band was known for its highly competitive spirit, it always found a way to please the crowds and the band; its members always found camaraderie among members of other high school bands and many friendships were made with students from other towns and states. The band was and still is a great ambassador for the school and the town of Paden City.
But more important than the trophies and awards won were the lessons taught to the many students who are proud to call themselves members of the PCHS Wildcat band, or “Hood’s kids.” Not only were students taught fundamentals and advanced lessons in instrumental music, music theory, and history, but many will say the lessons they learned were “life lessons” that helped them become leaders in the classroom and in life after high school and college. Most former band students will say the PCHS band taught them the ideals of dedication, teamwork, responsibility for yourself and for others. Many of the school’s band members were named to the West Virginia All-State band and orchestra and several of the “band kids” went on to become music educators or involved in music and theater in some fashion. Still more have grown into the role of ardent band parent, becoming band patrons and supporters in Paden City or wherever they settled and also encouraged their children to play musical instruments.
For the Hoods, the PCHS band was a family adventure with his wife Ann, and his three daughters. Hood had the privilege of teaching his three daughters, Jan, Kelly, and Jill as they were members of the PCHS band during his tenure at the school.
Hood left Paden City High School in 1981 after serving as the school’s longest-running band director (25 years). At the band’s annual Christmas banquet in December 1980, a proclamation from the City of Paden City was read declaring “Ed Hood Day” in Paden City and bestowing upon him the title of “Mr. Music.” Hood graduated from Mannington High School, Fairmont State College, and West Virginia University. He was a United States Army veteran, played in the 249th Army Band, received the Distinguished Band Directors of America award in 1978, recipient of the MAC award, was a member of the American School Band Directors Association and judged many band events in West Virginia and Ohio.
Hood also served as the choir director at St. Paul’s UM Church in Paden City for 16 years where he and his wife Ann and three daughters were members. Ann passed in 1990; Ed Hood passed on July 29 at the age of 83. At his memorial service, the PCHS band was joined by members of the alumni band as the combined group rendered the school’s fight song and then sang the school’s alma mater on the west lawn of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. It was a fitting tribute to “the leader of the band.”
The re-naming ceremony is part of an evening full of events that normally surround Homecoming. There will be a Homecoming parade prior to the game, an appearance by the PCHS Alumni Spirit Band, the crowning of the Homecoming queen, and the unveiling of the signage that will be installed inside the school designating the hall in honor of Ed Hood, former band director.
For information about the naming ceremony or to make a donation, contact Rodney McWilliams, president of the Paden City Foundation, at 304-482-9684 or Shauna Yoho Williams, president of the Paden City Alumni Association. For information about the PC Alumni Spirit Band appearance, contact Eric Croasmun or see Facebook for postings on Paden City Wildcat Band Alumni and Friends pages.