CHATSWORTH — Murray County music lovers may spot a familiar face if they watch the Tournament of Roses Parade on television this New Year's Day.

"Look for a very tall trumpet player," Greg Burns, the band director at Gladden Middle School who will be marching and playing his trumpet Jan. 1, advised with a smile. "This is such a touching, rewarding, amazing opportunity, and I'm honored to (represent) everybody" in this area.

"We're so proud of" Burns, said Daphne Winkler, Gladden's principal.

Burns, a 1997 graduate of Murray County High School, will play as part of an ensemble comprised completely of band directors, he said. The 300 band directors hail from all 50 states, and he's one of four from Georgia.

He'll be one of the 49 trumpet players in this ensemble, and "there are four songs I'm working on when I can" for the 5.5-mile procession, he said. This will be the first time this ensemble performs in the Tournament of Roses Parade, as last year's edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to various bands, the Tournament of Roses Parade — which precedes the Rose Bowl college football game in Pasadena, California — is famous for its ornate flower-covered floats, equestrian units, Rose Queen and Royal Court, according to the nonprofit Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, which produces the parade. First held in 1890, thousands of spectators watch the Rose Parade, as do millions on television.

"My wife gets to go, too, (and) we've never been out West before," Burns said. "This will be a completely new experience for me."

Pleasant Valley recognized

Pleasant Valley Innovative School was one of three finalists for the Georgia Association of Alternative Education's Spotlight School award and finished runner-up.

"We're so very happy," Dusty Strickland, assistant principal, said during Monday's Murray County Board of Education meeting. "The school has grown leaps and bounds" during the past decade.

"It's a different place" than it was 10 years ago, Strickland said. "We're proud of where we are and where we're going."

Pleasant Valley serves all high school virtual learners in Murray County Schools, students catching up on credits and "Bridge Kids" who are there due to discipline issues, so "we're really three schools in one," according to Strickland.

"We specialize in building authentic relationships with our kids," and Pleasant Valley's graduation rate is now over 80%, which "we are super proud of," as it's a marked increase from 59.5% just a few years ago.

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