The past, present and future of the Warner Robins High School band came together Saturday evening as alumni joined current band members and eighth-graders from middle schools zoned for Warner Robins to play the national anthem before the Warner Robins High football game.
The special presentation was directed by longtime Warner Robins High School band director E.C. Warnock who had been recognized the evening before at a dinner and reunion of band members. The dinner was held in conjunction with the naming of the Warner Robins High School band room after Warnock.
A presentation was made after the band performance at the football game by Mayor Randy Toms and current Warner Robins band director Todd Howell.
Warnock attended Warner Robins High School and was a member of the school’s first marching band in 1958. He was the first person from Warner Robins High School -- thus also the first person from the city of Warner Robins -- to be selected to the All State band.
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After attending Florida State University, Warnock returned to Warner Robins to fulfill a boyhood dream of being the school’s band director.
He was band director at Warner Robins from 1967 to 1992 and put Warner Robins High School on the map with superior ratings and students selected for honors such as All-State Band and Honor Band.
Many of his former students are now band directors. But regardless of whether they chose music as a career or went in another director, former student after student stood at the dinner and spoke of the impact that Warnock had made in their life.
“Many of us became band directors or wanted to become band directors because he made it look so easy,” said Casey Eubanks, one of several speakers at the dinner. “He is the one of the most modest people about his abilities.”
Dr. Benny Ferguson met Warnock in 1978 after taking the band director job at Mercer University. “The first contact I made was with E.C. Warnock at Warner Robins High School. E.C. is consistency; he is dependable; he is the teacher’s teacher. The one thing he never has to worry about is a legacy. He is the leader of the band.”
Warnock was known for his sayings -- “Results not Excuses” was emblazoned on the back of the reunion shirt -- and many others were repeated during the evening. Another recurring theme of those who spoke was their desire not to disappoint Warnock.
According to several former students who spoke, during band practices in the classroom -- if the music being played wasn’t up to Warnock’s high standards -- Warnock would go student by student, asking them to play their part solo.
Former students all agreed -- nobody wanted to be the person to disappoint E.C. Warnock ,so that meant most practiced plenty of time at home to meet Warnock’s standards of excellence.
Several of the former students who spoke bragged about the privilege of having Warnock for more than the three years of high school. For years, Rumble Junior High did not have a separate band teacher; students in the Rumble band walked across Demon Valley to be taught at Warner Robins High School by Warnock.
“He gave so many of us so many gifts,” said one former student. “A love of music for our lifetime was just one of them.”