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Apex High School senior makes history

Posted August 23, 2013
Updated August 29, 2013

— A senior at Apex High School made history Friday night with the school marching band. 

Justin Perkins has been playing the tuba since he was in the fourth grade, and now the young man is the first African-American drum major in the past 40 years of the school's storied musical history. 

Justin Perkins Apex drum major breaks ground

"I always dreamed of being a drum major, ever since I got to high school. It's truly, truly an honor," said Perkins.

The 130 members of the Apex High School Marching band are under the direction of Paul Rowe, who describes Justin as a talented musician who was destined to be a band leader.

"I think the kids gravitate and see that leadership in him, and he kind of exudes a bit of that," Rowe said. 

Perkins described his philosophy as: "Life, love, having fun.

"All those different things can be reflected through the music that you like and the way you play," he explained.

Perkins said he plans to continue to play the tuba when he starts college next year. The high school senior hopes to attend North Carolina State University. 

12 Comments

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  • Mon Account Sep 5, 5:43 p.m.

    The lesson to take away from this story is that when ANYONE takes personal responsibility for themselves, they can excel and succeed; but when they portray themselves as victims, they are looking for an excuse not to be responsible for their own lives.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Sep 4, 9:44 a.m.

    The lesson to take away from this story is that when minorities take personal responsibility for themselves, they can excel and succeed; but when they portray themselves as victims, they are looking for an excuse not to be responsible for their own lives.

    The hard work and dedication that one devotes to a sport or an art should just as much be devoted to one's education and career choices. The reason that there are so many people earning minimum wage is because they have given minimum effort at improving their lives. The government is complicit in our nation's poverty by rewarding non-performers, and penalizing those who contribute the most to our society. No one is entitled to anything they haven't earned; in contrast, what you think about the most is what you draw into your life. People who think about what they don't have attract more of the same; people who are grateful for what they have end up getting more.

    Perkins should continue to apply himself and he will succeed

  • COPs eye Aug 30, 4:58 p.m.

    While I am proud of his achievement, the fact that he is African-American is irrelevant and should not even be mentioned in the story. Without the race being reported, there is no story for the media and frankly it takes away from the achievement for the other Drum Majors in the area.

    Yep

  • wingler Aug 29, 9:37 a.m.

    I really like this story since I am an AHS graduate from 1976. However, the first African American drum major at AHS was a student by the name of Vernon Spinks. I marched with the band in the fall of 1971 under his direction. So Justin Perkins may be the first in 40 years, but Vernon Spinks had the honor of being the first African American drum major at Apex High. Please set the record straight.

  • outhousecat Aug 26, 4:10 p.m.

    Go Cougars!!!

    Class of '78

  • Watermelon Aug 26, 3:46 p.m.

    jackflash123 - Perhaps he is the first because no other African American student wanted the position (and the stress that comes with it) and that's why there hasn't been one already. Drum majors aren't chosen by looks...they are chosen by their ability to lead the entire band.

  • katiebridgette Aug 26, 3:43 p.m.

    Congratulations to Justin Perkins. Well done!

    I wonder, though: If this had happened anytime in the last five or ten years, would it have been reported as a "first", or "merely" as the accomplishment of a talented student?

    Were there other candidates in the past who were passed over solely because of their race?

    It seems to me the areas in which "first woman" or "first black" remain a big deal are shrinking, but does it look different if one is under 20? Under 30?

  • abwrenn2 Aug 26, 3:40 p.m.

    Way to go Justin, awesome achievement!

  • jackflash123 Aug 26, 2:49 p.m.

    "While I am proud of his achievement, the fact that he is African-American is irrelevant and should not even be mentioned in the story."

    It's not that he is an African-American Drum Major; it's that he is the FIRST African-American Drum Major IN THE HISTORY OF APEX HIGH SCHOOL. We're not talking about a 2-year-old school, either. It opened in 1970. It's one thing to remove the technical, on-the-books legal restrictions based on race; it's another thing when it actually happens in reality. This is the first time in 40+ years. It's a tragic commentary on our nation's history (more and more distant, but still in living memory) that this is a big deal, but it is indeed a big deal.

    We are about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. It will indeed be great when people are judged by their character and not their color, but among Drum Majors at Apex HS, there has previously been no example proving that.

  • TeaBagOnLove Aug 26, 9:30 a.m.

    Historic! Sweeping! All of these 'tone setting' headlines are the standard in reporting over the last several years.

    While I am proud of his achievement, the fact that he is African-American is irrelevant and should not even be mentioned in the story. Without the race being reported, there is no story for the media and frankly it takes away from the achievement for the other Drum Majors in the area.

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