Rich South band director returning ‘home’
By Steve Metsch email@example.com May 1, 2014 5:32PM
Rich South Band director Y.L. Douglas | File photo
Updated: June 3, 2014 6:39AM
After eight years of directing the bands at Rich South High School, Yolandus “Y.L.” Douglas is going home.
He’s taking over as band director at Thornridge High School in Dolton, where he graduated in 1989.
Douglas will take over for David Eanes, the 27-year band director at Thornridge, who’s retiring. That opportunity and curriculum changes at Rich South that have made it harder for students to take band are the reasons for his move, Douglas said.
He said band is an elective in Rich Township High School District 227, “so when they add foundation courses, it leaves no room for some students (to take band). I understand they’ll still have a band program, but to what extent I’m not sure,” Douglas, of Matteson, said.
When he started the band, there were 35 members, he said, and membership rose to 103 a few years ago but is down to 36 today.
For Douglas, who thrives on teaching students about music and directing bands, such a dramatic change at Rich South tears away at him.
“It’s been a great journey. I’ll miss these kids dearly. I hope the district makes the right decisions on part of these kids,” he said.
Douglas said Eanes was his band director at Thornridge, and he worked an assistant to Eanes from 1992 to ’97.
“I’m honored and privileged to stand in those big shoes. ... It’s been a award-winning program ever since he stepped in the door in 1987,” Douglas said.
Under Douglas, Rich South’s band had some notable achievements. It played at a college football bowl game, for President Obama’s first inauguration and had several performances associated with the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He’s most proud of the roughly $15 million in college scholarships that band members received during his tenure.
“Ultimately, the kids, they’re the ones who’ve been at the work bench and making things happen. Also my (band) parents who supported this program. And the alumni who come back,” Douglas said. “But I look forward to working at Thornridge. Every accomplishment I’ve experienced is due to David Eanes. He taught us well.”
A farewell party for Douglas starts at 5 p.m. today at Bocce’s Sports Bar & Grill, 3909 W. U.S. 30 in Matteson. Rich South’s final concert directed by Douglas will be at 7 p.m. May 16 at the school, 5000 Sauk Trail, Richton Park.
Eanes’ farewell concert is set for May 23 at Thornridge.