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East Ridge honors band director at Homecoming game

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Perry Vandergriff, East Ridge High band director. Perry Vandergriff, East Ridge High band director.
EAST RIDGE, TN (WRCB) -

Before Homecoming celebrations began at East Ridge High School, they paid special tribute to a man who had a great impact on hundreds of students.

Band Director Perry Vandergriff died two weeks ago. He led the Pioneer Band for more than 20 years.

On Friday night, students honored him through music.

Before the pioneers took the field, the high school band and alumni payed tribute to Vandergriff.

The 56-year-old died of a heart attack earlier this month.

"He was like a father figure that taught me everything," said Kendrick Harris, senior. "It's really sad being out here just to play for him."

Band members fought back tears during the special performance.

"It was hard," said senior Payten Perry. "But I'm glad that we all got an opportunity to show everybody how much he meant to us, and do something that was just for him."

"He helped me a lot with anxiety, and self-esteem issues and confidence," said Tori Reed, senior. "Any time I would feel bad about myself or have a bad day, I could go down to the band room, and he'd put a smile on my face."

Students said football games and pep rallies now seem quiet without him here.

Vandergriff did more than teach music. He was a mentor and friend.

READ MORE | UPDATE: Funeral services set for East Ridge High band director

"Mr. Vandergriff has definitely been the most influential person in my life," said Perry. "From how to conduct a band, to how to deal with life, how to walk into a room, how to talk to people, and everything in between."

School Patrol

David Carroll covers education news and issues at schools across the Tennessee Valley.

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