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BAND DIRECTOR DID IT HIS WAY


-Lakeview leader 
 leaves after  years 
 of success.
 By Gordon Wilczynski
 Macomb Daily Staff Writer

    The sign on the wall in Jack Ellis'
band office at Lakeview High School
best summed up the philosophy he
used during his successful 25 years
as a band man.
"This is not Burger King. You 
don't get it your way. You take it my
way."
    It works, says Ellis, who is scaling
back his duties in teaching and giving
up his band directorship. The Lakeview
High School band has rated in the 
top 10 in the state for the past 20 years,
and much of the credit goes to Ellis.
    "I don't think I'm any better then any
other band director, but we have
outstanding parents at Lakeview who 
have sacrificed there life to make our
program work, "Ellis said.
    Lakeview parents raise between $30,000
to $50,000 annually for travel to 
competitions, staff color guard, uniforms 
and a winter guard program.
    The band constantly practices and 
travels all over the Midwest just about 
every weekend for some type of competition.
    Ellis has been a teacher for 30 years.
He assisted band director Tom Course for 
10 years before taking over the baton when
Course went to Birmingham.
    "We were a AA high school back then,
and in the 1980s used to get 160 students
out for band," Ellis said. "Know that our 
enrollment has dropped, we usually have 80
to 110 people in our band."
    Almost all of Lakeview experienced band 
members come from Jefferson Middle School,
which is located only two blocks from the 
Lakeview's Schaublin Auditorium.
    The students practice often and emphasize
perfection through many hours of going over 
the same song.
    "we've had a tradition at Lakeview since 
1954," Ellis said. "Kids expect us to be good."
    Ellis said he's most proud of the way 
Lakeview band members perform. He said 
winning never was the goal, but he knew they
would be good because of the way they practice.
    Ellis said Lakeview players always perform
with class and poise.
    "I guess that I am most proud that we always 
find a place for anyone who wants to be in band,"
said Ellis, who obtained his bachelor's degree 
from the western Michigan University.
    Ellis said students are the same as they were 
when he first started teaching band. He said the 
students demand discipline and know it takes
countless hours of hard work to be good.
    He said the parent's can be even more 
demanding. 
    "We have quality kids who still want structure 
and want to be good, "he said." But the parents 
have a low tolerance that their kid may have 
made a mistake.
    "You could take these kids and mingle them 
in with our students of the 1980s and couldn't
tell the difference. I think I have a few more 
quality kids now than before."
    A n example is last fall when the band marched 
in competition in Clinton, Mich., and the lights 
went out. With the crowd screaming and yelling, 
the Husky band continued to perform with out 
missing a beat.
    "We received one of the most incredible ovations 
I have ever heard, "Ellis said.
    Ellis is proud of the royal blue flash light a parent
gave him a few days after that memorable performance.
Written in white letters was the question, "hey, who 
turn out the lights. Clinton 1997."
    Ellis is the choir director at the First Baptist Church
in Birmingham. He and his wife, Joellyn, a third grade
teacher at Ardmore Elementary School in Lakeview schools,
have three sons: James, Jonathon and Jeremy, who are 
musicians. 
    Next fall, Ellis hopes to teach honors European history
and do some choir work. His work as vice president of the 
Lakeview Education Association also will keep him busy.