The band room at McKee Middle School is spacious and full of cacophony. The children play instruments while band director Jammie Phillips walks and teaches hands-on.
Phillips recently photographed two students, tuba player Errol Caraway and trombonist Alexander Philips, in front of the school as they were inducted into the Auburn University High School Honor Band. She said she was going to try to post it on the school district’s Facebook page.
Since the photo was posted, it has received more than 9,000 comments, more than 600 shares and almost 30,000 reactions. Two eighth graders said they even made it to Brazil.
Philips said it expected the post to get some engagement, but not nearly as much as it got.
“Especially when we’re just in high school,” Caraway added.
Lakinya Caraway, Errol Caraway’s mother, said she never expected it to blow up like this. She believes the spotlight will make other kids realize they don’t need to be athletic kids to be celebrated.
“I think these gentlemen kind of opened the floodgates,” she said. “It definitely gave a lot of kids hope.”
Joshua Caraway said his son comes home every day and records a YouTube video of the band playing.
Frank Carr, Philips’ uncle, is himself a member of the group and a teacher at Robert E. Lee High School. Track and field often overshadows track in the Montgomery area, he said. The athletics department only makes up a small portion of the student body, and he said the record draws attention to other parts of the schools.
“I know they have support, but to actually see them and so many other people who recognize that, ‘Hey, there’s great things happening at this school with this band director,'” Carr said.
Jammie Phillips has been the band director for 16 years and came here from Georgia. She said her previous students went on to the University of Georgia and went on to become professionals. Her old district used to advertise her students, but it never blew up like this.
“So I would say, I’m just happy that this community is so supportive of the kids,” she said.
Philips and Caraway said they expect their families to be supportive. “But I don’t think other people…” Philips said.
“It’s all over the world,” interjected Jamie Phillips.
And does all the attention make them nervous?
“Nervous,” Caraway said.
“It’s fine,” Philips said.