The Kathleen High School Band was formed in the 1950 at Kathleen High School. The the yearbook then called Interarbores, has a picture of the 26 member band on the front steps of the Kathleen High School, holding wind instruments, and standing with Mr. George Moore. This is the first year any band shows up in the Kathleen High School yearbooks. Mr. Moore shows up on another page for “Jr. High Trainers” with “Band” under his name. This suggests the band started out as a Jr. High Band curriculum that grew with the students the following year into a Sr. High Band.
The following year Interarbores 1951 presented a two page spread of the 49 member band, in brand new uniforms, under the direction of Bandmaster Thomas G. Munafo. On the first page, there is a picture of the band sitting on the steps of Kathleen High, and the yearbook describes the band consisting of 10 cornets & trumpets, 1 mascot, 11 clarinets, 3 trombones, 2 sousaphones, 2 flutes, 2 baritone horns, 2 E-flat horns, 2 saxophones, 2 bell lyres, 4 drums, 6 majorettes, 2 dancers called “The Prancing Devils”, and 1 drum major. The bass drum on display in front of the band displays the words “Kathleen High” with the Red Devil mascot head in the center. On the second, page is a photo of the band in a parade marching formation, with the band lined up 5 members wide, in front of the band are 5 majorettes, in front of them stands the dancing devils, and up front the drum major, mascot, and majorettes captain.
In October of 1951 an article titled “Kathleen to battle Ft.Meade” mentions the following, “Kathleen’s two year old band, under the direction of Bandmaster Tommy Munafo, will put on a halftime show resplendent in new bright red uniforms.”. These photos and news articles indicate a well organized Sr. High School band was established by Bandmaster Thomas G. Munafo AKA. “Tommy the Music Man” in the 1951 school year.
In honor of Mr. Munafo and his role in the band program at Kathleen, I believe it is important to recognize the path that led him to Kathleen High and to celebrate his lifelong dedication to Music & Education in the Central Florida area. Below is an excerpt from his 2003 obituary.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, of musical parents who taught him to play all instruments at an early age, he moved to Lakeland, Florida in 1932. Being a musician, he returned to New York, where he traveled with some big bands until World War II and was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and was placed in the Army Band. After his discharge, he returned to Lakeland and entered Florida Southern College, where he graduated with a degree in Music Education. He began his teaching career as the band director at Kathleen High School. He later received his Masters Degree from the University of Mississippi Ole Miss. In 1958 he became the band director at Lakeland Senior High School. He moved to St. Petersburg FL. in 1962 and became the instrumental music teacher for the Pinellas County School System teaching at ten different elementary schools until his retirement in 1979. He was a member of the Florida Bandmasters Association, and the American Federation of Musicians.
News articles describe some of the activities the band took part in. In 1954, an article described an annual community concert dating back to 1952. There are also records indicating the band participated in local fundraising, parades, concerts, and events.
The first Florida Bandmasters Association (FBA) District Contest the band participated in appears to be in 1953. At the time, FBA District Contests were held once yearly and included 3 contests in the same day. Marching Band, Concert Band, and Sight-Reading. In order for the bands to progress to the State level FBA Contest, they must score a Superior in 2 out of 3 of the contests at the District level events. The bands were also required to participate in a parade that same day. In addition, they also held Solo & Ensemble Contests the same day. The District Contests and scores are documented in newspaper articles from the era.
In 1955, the band scored Superiors in both the Concert and Sight-reading contests at the 1955 FBA District Contest and for the first time progressed to the 1955 FBA State Contest in Miami FL.. After performing at the state contest FBA records indicate they received an overall score of Excellent.