Members of the Dongola School band performed recently for Corinne Brown, a former band teacher. Sitting, from left, are Corinne Brown and Rebecca Gray. Standing are students Charles Duty, Evan Treat, Ashley Sullens and Mackenzie Kelley. Photo by Lindsey Rae Vaughn.

Special visit with special teacher

Corinne Brown, a former band teacher at Dongola High School, was surprised to see several Dongola band students and their teacher in the lobby at Union County Hospital in Anna on Thursday, Dec. 1.

The students and their teacher were at the Anna hospital to perform a few Christmas songs for her.

Jim Helm, a former student of Brown's, set up the surprise.

"She is one of the greatest educators in the community," Helm said.

Brown made many accomplishments and achievements during her 31 years at Dongola. 

The band traveled all over Southern Illinois and went to Springfield several times to perform.

They were invited to perform at several different places and in 1977, they were the only Illinois band at the time to be invited to perform at the Kentucky Derby.

She retired from Dongola and taught at Cobden for seven years.

"The kids were my favorite thing. They have to have respect, but you have to give them something to work for," Brown said. "They are still my kids."

During the performance at Union County Hospital, Brown was surrounded by several former students.

Current Dongola band students Charles Duty, Evan Treat, Ashley Sullens and Mackenzie Kelley and Dongola band teacher Rebecca Gray performed several holiday songs with trumpets and a tenor saxophone.

"It was so wonderful, I can't get over it," Brown said about the performance.

Gray said it was an incredibly humbling experience to play for Mrs. Corinne Brown. 

"I have heard legendary stories of what the band was like when she was here, and I feel as though her legacy set the foundation for the support my program and I have received since arriving in Dongola. To meet the source of all that support and passion was just incredible. I hope to be half the teacher she was," Gray said.

Within the last few years since Gray began teaching at Dongola, the band has increased from three students to 65.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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