December 3, 2020

Marching Band Receives Outpouring of Support after Tragedy

(Franklin, GA) — It was a little more than five years ago that the Temple High School and Heard County High School marching bands performed together before a Friday night football game between the two Region 5-AA schools at Staples Stadium in Franklin.

The two bands joined together on October 8, 2010 to play “Amazing Grace” as a pregame tribute to James “Ray Ray” Walker, a 17-year-old Temple football player that died after a fatal bus crash earlier that week.

Lilly Scott (Photo: Rodney East)

Lilly Scott (Photo: Rodney East)

This Friday night the two marching bands will come together once again in the wake of tragedy.

This time they will join together at Temple High School where they will be performing in remembrance of the loss of another 17-year-old, senior Heard County drum major Lilly Scott.

Scott passed away last week from injuries sustained in a tragic Oct. 12 car accident near Franklin.

Temple High School’s gracious pregame gesture is just one example of the outpouring of support the Marching Braves have received over the past two weeks from countless schools and communities.

One of the most breathtaking shows of support came last Thursday when five school buses loaded with the Carrollton High School Marching Trojans stopped by Heard High School on their way to a road football game.

One of the biggest bands in the state arrived at HHS bearing numerous gifts, including a very creative handmade sympathy card, some goody bags, and most importantly lots of hugs and words of encouragement.

Other marching bands and teams from the West Georgia area and around the state have offered support to the grieving Brave band members in many ways.

Several bands and softball teams have worn ribbons and displayed signs in support of Lilly and some have dedicated performances to her even while she was in intensive care soon after the accident.

Ironically, some of Heard’s biggest rivals have stepped up the most including both Bremen High School and Bowdon High School.

Bremen’s softball team prayed for Lilly and wore blue ribbons in state playoff games, and other rival schools including Manchester and Callaway sent cards and posted prayers on social media.

Bowdon’s band and cheerleaders presented the Marching Braves with an especially thoughtful prayer banner at halftime of last week’s rivalry football game.

The Red Devil band played the Christian hymn “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” at halftime before giving up the remainder of their normal performance time to the Marching Braves.

Handmade sympathy card from the Carrollton Trojan Marching band

Handmade sympathy card from the Carrollton Trojan Marching band

Another profound show of support came from a Franklin business, Cute Zee’s Salon and Boutique.

Cute Zee’s offered free salon services to all the Marching Brave band members during the week of Lilly’s funeral, helping to ease some of the burden for the grieving teens.

Encouragement has also come from afar. HHS band director Armand Tyson has received sympathy cards and letters from as far away as England and Spain.

Tyson knows that Lilly will be impossible to replace. “Lilly meant everything to our band program,” says Tyson.”It wasn’t like she was just a part of our band she was THE leader of our band. She was always there for us — she was always at practice.”

The band director remembers Lilly as a true musical talent pointing out the unusual electric guitar solo she performed during halftime shows.

“The solo that she worked on for ‘Freebird,’ she wrote that herself — I can’t take any credit for that. That was all Lilly, ” says Tyson. “She said she could do it. I didn’t even know she could play guitar and then she just showed up one day with her guitar and she played it and it was simply awesome.”

One of the most thoughtful letters Tyson received was from Melody Hoing, a freshman clarinet player in the Blackhawk High School Marching Band in western Pennsylvania.

“I want you to know that we were and still are praying for Lilly and your band,” wrote Hoing in a handwritten letter on behalf of her school.”I hope your band is able to continue to play with the same, if not more passion than ever before! I think that would be the best thing. I know every time I play clarinet or percussion now I’m always thinking of your band. I believe in you guys. We believe in you guys.”

The Marching Braves have remained strong throughout the ordeal by bonding together behind their new rallying cry, “Play for Lilly.”

The band especially performed well even with heavy hearts during the Golden River Marching Festival competition on October 17 at Haralson County High School, scoring superior marks for color guard, percussion, and drum major.

Sophomore assistant drum major Melanie Cheney performed admirably in Lilly’s absence despite very little experience leading the group.

“I’m absolutely honored to take on the role and responsibilities that Lilly had for our band,” says Cheney. “We just have to trust in the Lord, stick together as a family, and push forward towards a successful rest of the season in Lilly’s honor.”

The host of the competition, the Haralson County Rebels band, welcomed the Braves with open arms, presenting them with thoughtful gifts and pausing the competition on two separate occasions for moments of silence. The Rebel band also dedicated their competition performance to the Marching Braves.

Sophomore Melanie Cheney leads the Marching Braves during the awards segment of the competition at Haralson Co. on October 17.

Sophomore Melanie Cheney leads the Marching Braves during the awards segment of the competition at Haralson County on October 17

The Mount Zion Eagles marching band was not even entered in the competition that day, but still came out to the event just to support Heard County. Other bands, including Armuchee and Murray County from north Georgia, had special prayers for Lilly.

 “The whole situation during that first week of Lilly’s accident was really hard,” says Tyson. “The kids were really emotional and we gave them the choice on what to do but they wanted to ‘Play for Lilly’ because they knew that is what she would have wanted.”

Outside of her gifted talent for music, Lilly was perhaps an even more effective drum major because of her natural leadership ability.

“Lilly was just someone that always wanted to help somebody — you know whenever I needed her she was always there,” says fellow Marching Brave Eli Caldwell. “When my grandfather passed away she was the one that came up and hugged my neck and told me I would get through it – she was the type of person that was always ready to help. She was a fantastic leader. I always looked up to her — she was a perfectionist, she was my role model and just an all-around amazing person.”

Another Marching Brave, freshman Jordan Cornelius, recollects how instrumental Lilly was in helping him adapt to the high school band.

“As a freshman, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect at band camp and the upcoming season, but Lilly welcomed me, helped me, and became my friend,” says Cornelius. “She was an inspiring leader and an example to follow. We will all continue to Play for Lilly.”

Special banner presented to the Marching Braves by Bowdon High School during last week's game

Special banner presented to the Marching Braves by Bowdon High School during last week’s game


  1. Brooke Wynn says

    Superbly Written!

  2. Sad this is the reason we need to pray when our teen drivers are on the road. Every person needs driver safety course in school and we need to raise the age to 18 drivers license.

  3. Dianne Chambers says

    Good Article Russ…. Our entire community has embraced each other in such an amazing way. All of these kids are “Our” kids. Each one special and each one loved even if they dont know it. I attend nearly every home game, and I dont personally know a single child on the team, cheer squad or band.. . but yet I love them all and have watched each of them grow up before my eyes. I look to their futures and pray for positive things for them. As we all go through this very very difficult time, I hope our kids find comfort in the support of the community.

  4. Melody Hoing says

    This article is so very well written. Lilly was my closest “far away friend”. We only met for a short time many years ago but boy did she leave an impact to last a life time. She is truly missed everyday. I hope the letter that I wrote the band inspired them. I love them all so very much and am praying for them every day.

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