Members of Trousdale County’s Marching Yellow Jackets took a surprise road trip to East Tennessee last month to honor two of their own.

Trousdale band director Rob Joines organized a trip by the students to Knoxville on Saturday, Nov. 27, the day after the Yellow Jacket football team played at Hampton, to watch TCHS alumni Noah Cartwright and Caroline Guffey perform with the University of Tennessee’s Pride of the Southland Marching Band.

“We had a high level of secrecy around this. The kids knew for three months and didn’t tell the UT students that we were coming,” Joines said.

Accompanying the students were assistant band director Steve Paxton, Band Boosters president Martin Boles and wife Janet, TCHS girls basketball coach Jared Hawkins and photographer Mark Presley. Each of the Trousdale students wore a commemorative T-shirt made to honor Cartwright and Guffey.

“We took around 30 students and chaperones to that game and made a day of it,” Paxton told the School Board during last week’s meeting. “They got to tailgate, saw the Vol Walk. Mr. Joines coordinated with Southeast Impressions and we had these shirts made.

“It was important for our students to see that physical support… making our students feel important and validated in what they are doing.”

In addition to being the final game of the season, it was also the last home game for Guffey, a senior who was honored at halftime on the Jumbotron at Neyland Stadium.

“I was out practicing and saw them in the corner. I thought it was the coolest thing that they get to see a 350-piece band compared to a 30-piece,” said Guffey, who plays the trumpet. “I t was really cool for them to do that and the T-shirts were great. I loved it.”

“I thought it was a wonderful gesture. It was a nice surprise,” added Cartwight a junior tuba player at UT. “I’m really thankful for Mr. Joines and Mr. Paxton’s support through my time in high school and in college.

“It was also awesome to the all the high schoolers get the opportunity to see a college band and what that experience is like, so they see the opportunities that lie ahead of them.”

Guffey graduated earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience with a minor in psychology. She will be moving to Florida soon to attend chiropractor school but intends to return to Tennessee.

In earning her degree, Guffey also took time out to acknowledge those who have supported her along the way. As a recipient of the Hartsville Rotary Club’s annual scholarship, she sent a thank-you card and invitation to her third-grade teacher, Martha Joe Jewell, who is now retired.

In that card, Guffey included a copy of her third-grade report card on which Jewell had written, “Lovely young lady. Please remember to email me when she grads UT or whoever!”

“I remember her doing that because my brother was graduating UT that year. So we dug back and looked for and found the card; it was really cool,” Guffey said.

Jewell said she was touched that Guffey remembered that gesture after almost 15 years.

“She’s an outstanding young lady, a Rotary scholarship winner. She’s incredible and her family is as well,” Jewell said.

Cartwright and Guffey are the sixth Trousdale students to participate in UT’s band since 2003, joining Seth Thurman, Jesse Edwards, Marshal Myhan and Laurel Dodson. Both also received music scholarships to Tennessee.

Additionally, former TCHS students Eric Loerch is on band scholarship at Bethel University and Mackinzie Vaughn is in the band at Western Kentucky this year.

At this year’s state championships, Trousdale’s band placed 15th overall and all five seniors received scholarship offers totaling $413,100.

“We want the citizens of Trousdale County to know that we take their investment in us seriously, and we try to give them ‘the most bang for the buck’ when it comes to results,” Joines said. “Our school system’s mission statement is, ‘Accelerating & Graduating All Students for the Careers of Tomorrow,’ and we want to do our part.”

Since Joines took over the Trousdale band in 2002, the Marching Yellow Jackets have sent students to university and MTSBOA Mid-State honor bands, youth symphonies at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, participated in the 2008 Tennessee Music Education Association State Concert Festival, and represented Trousdale County in Gov. Bill Haslam’s 2011 inaugural parade.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or

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