EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Bel Air High School Pipe Band will receive a little over $20,000 in donations from alumni at a special ceremony scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the school cafeteria.
Graduates from the classes of 1971 and 1972 will host the special Celebration of Bagpipes ceremony to present the donation that will be used to supply the Pipe Band with musical equipment, uniforms, and much more.
The efforts to support the famed band date back to September of last year when “Classic Highlanders” (those who graduated between 1960 and 1980) gathered for an event known as the “Reunion of all Reunions.”
Proud graduates held a fundraiser to benefit the band and managed to raise a total of about $3,000.
But one very generous Highlander from the Class of 1971, Richard Daly, really came through for the Pipe Band, gifting them $17,088 on his own.
“Highlander alumni are among our most dedicated and loyal supporters, and we are sincerely grateful for this generous donation,” said Bel Air High School Principal Jake Valtierra. “Our Pipe Band is a unique and beloved part of the Highlander experience, and this gift will go a long way toward strengthening and preserving it for future generations of students.”
Among the special guests at Wednesday’s ceremony will be John Estes, who directed the Pipe Band for three decades before retiring in 1992.
Estes was recruited to be the band director in 1962 by former Superintendent of Schools Dr. J.M. Hanks.
Although he admits he didn’t think he was completely qualified at first, he helped create a tradition that has now lasted six decades and has become an integral part of the Bel Air community.
“I didn’t even do well in drum class, and here I was trying to teach pipes and drums,” Estes said.
“Dr. Hanks called me one day and said, ‘Well, Estes? What do you think? Are you going to stick with us or are we going to assign you to something else?’ And I told him: ‘I love my students. I’ll keep it.'”