What a time to be in the PCEP Marching Band! Band Camp at Innisfree August 1974 until Memorial Day 1978. We were destined to be one of the most challenging and the largest classes that Mr. Griffith ever had! I played the clarinet.

Me: Kathi Gladden...1975 Memorial Day ParadeMe: Kathi Gladden...1975 Memorial Day Parade

We started band camp knowing we were bound for The Orange Bowl Parade, New Year’s Eve 1974. Of course, Mr. Griffith constantly reminded us that our predecessors got us here, now we needed to be better! I could not wait to get away from my parents, to fly down in a chartered Delta DC-10 and go to the beach! That is a dream to any 14 year old from Michigan, especially in the winter! Then, my mom came to me and said, “Mr. Griffith is looking for more chaperones; your father and I are going with you.” What? No Way - How embarrassing! Not only was I a freshman and in the “unpopular” group, but now my parents were coming along? I tried to stay away from them, but my mother found me at every turn. Then the news came, my mother stated, “I made friends with Mr. Griffith and Anne!” (Who’s Anne I asked myself?) Not only did my mom become fast friends with The Griffith’s, we also lived down the street from them! To top that off my mom was a chaperone to Denise Ruttenburg, Lori Upton, Cindy Gortney and Karen Decker, the “cool” girls - class of 77’. We marched at Disney World, toured Cape Canaveral, marched in the Orange Bowl Parade, went to the Orange Bowl Game (Notre Dame won), and soaked up the sun on the beach. As always the “curfew” was lights out at 11pm - almost every night. We got lost going to the Miami Airport after the Orange Bowl Game in which my dad intervened in turning the buses around! We made it and flew home. (Glad mom and dad where there after all!) What a trip!

Sophomore year came with the big vote to either stay with the old fashioned marching style or turn to a new “core” style. We voted at Camp Innisfree. I was one of a hand full of the band members that voted not to change. Well, we lost. History was made; core style was introduced; bleeding lips and sore legs were gone.

Lf – Rt: Cindy Gortney, Lori Upton, Me, Colleen Osborne 79Lf – Rt: Cindy Gortney, Lori Upton, Me, Colleen Osborne 79’Junior year I tried out and became a member of the color guard (more stylish uniforms).

Senior year was the beginning of new uniforms and Core Instructor, Ralph Johnson. We entered into our first competition at Western Michigan and did not perform very well. PCEP was always on top, now we weren’t. Mr. Griffith, being the perfectionist, was disappointed, but he knew the band had to start somewhere. Just when I thought I could quietly go out of the PCEP Marching Band in my senior year; we had our Band Banquet. I was presented with the “Best Strut” award by Nancy McNiven and Jane Rosbolt, the “cool” girls in our class of 78’! My embarrassing moments with PCEP continued right up until the end!

I did return to twirl the flag for many years with the Alumni Band performing the infamous “Temptation”. Looking for help, Mr. Griffith asked me to be a counselor during Band Camp 1984. I hitched a ride to camp with fellow clarinetist Mary Kleam, class of ’74 - one of the cool girls 10 years prior! (Was I finally in the popular group?) The camp was at a different place up north, but still a great experience! The best part was handing off my award to another member, in “her name”!

Left is my husband, oldest daughter and me, May 2017Left is my husband, oldest daughter and me, May 2017

My mom had caught “the bug” of being a chaperone – participating in the rest of our band trips with Symphony and Marching Band. She started working for Mr. Griffith part time in 1977. She loved being his secretary; quickly got to know the students, and continued being a chaperone with the bands. Mr. Griffith always made her laugh and I wondered to myself, “Really? I didn’t know - he was funny!” She always referred and called him, Mr. Griffith, never Jim; working for him as long as she could before she got sick. My mom died in March 1989. I love and miss her very much. Mr. and Mrs. Griffith came to the funeral home. That was the last time I saw them.

I learned so much from Mr. Griffith. I learned how to respect and listen to those in authority. Mr. Griffith commanded perfection from those who participated in his bands. We were all the better for it. It took a lot of time for me to come to this realization and really appreciate all what Mr. Griffith strived for and accomplished! Some students bucked the system much to their own stubbornness. In admiration and awesomeness, I played, marched, and performed for 4 years in both PCEP Marching Band and Symphony Band; always striving to do my best.

Kathi Gladden DaughterKathi Gladden Daughter

My daughters are both playing in our Community College - Concert and Jazz Band. They play the Tenor Sax and Flute.

The music legacy continues in my life and I will never forget my experience with PCEP Marching Band, Symphony Band, Mr. Griffith, or Camp Innisfree.

Thanks Mr. Griffith for your passion and always striving to be the best!! PCEP Bands would not be the bands they are today without your legacy of desire, commitment and love of music.