Soon-to-be Eagle Scout helps fulfill Jackson’s wish

It’s been a tough transition for the Providence High School band, losing their beloved band director Paul Jackson less than a year ago and trying to continue to learn, grow and accept a new director.

But with the help of Boy Scout Adam Caldwell, a junior band member at the school, students got a fresh start.

Adam has been in Boy Scouts since the first grade, so for him, scouting is a part of life. That’s why it was no question whether or not he would go for the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement in scouting. It’s been part of the plan from the very beginning.

“I’ve stuck with it the whole time,” Adam said. “It took a lot of hard work and devotion and a lot of effort. My grandpa was always talking about how he was an Eagle and my mom always talked about how I should become an Eagle, too.”

But it was his dad, Kevin, who really helped encourage Adam to see scouting through to the end. Never participating in scouting himself, he says he wanted Adam to have the skills and experiences he never had as a kid.

So when it came time to pick an Eagle project, Adam needed something the whole family could enjoy. They tossed around several ideas, but when band director Paul Jackson approached Adam, a member of the band, with an Eagle project idea,

Adam and his family were sold. Jackson wanted Adam to help makeover the school’s band room, providing more space and a better system to hang and display band students’ accomplishments.

“Mr. Jackson approached me last year and talked to me about my project, proposing the idea to make a plaque system since every year, band goes to a music performance and they get a plaque. Every year we get a plaque, and he really believed in displaying these awards.”

But Jackson died in February from cancer, leaving Adam not only sad, but wondering if his project was still an option.

“He really passed away all of a sudden and we weren’t sure what was going to happen next,” Adam said. “We didn’t know if we could do the project or not. Mr. Jackson’s death didn’t stop anything – it just really gave me more motivation.”

“It was just a little more complicated because he had passed away,” Kevin Caldwell said. “He had really only communicated what he was looking for with Adam.”

But after exploring other options, the Caldwells kept coming back to Jackson’s band room project and decided if they could get the cooperation from the school and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, they would make it happen, and maybe throw in a few extras since more people were at stake in this project – students, parents and mentors alike wanted the renovation not only to honor Jackson’s wish, but also to help make new band director Joshua Potter’s transition easier.

“After his death, it was really sad seeing the band room the way that it used to be, especially with a new director coming in,” Adam said. “So we just really wanted to cleanse it and make it look fresh.”

Adam’s project got approval and with the help of other scouts, band members and parents, the group was able to totally renovate the school’s band room – with a fresh coat of paint, creating a hanging plaque system leaving space for future plaques, installing shelves in the office, recovering the sound boards, hanging shadow boxes remembering past band directors and cleaning and reorganizing the band’s trophies. Around 40 people worked more than 300 hours to get the job finished before school started.

“The first day of band camp everyone was really excited,” Adam said. “It was basically just a brand new start. It was the realization coming in there that Jackson actually wasn’t going to be there – it made it really real that he wasn’t coming back.”

For Adam, the project means more than achieving Eagle Scout rank, but also honoring a great mentor. Adam first met Jackson at a recital in the seventh grade, where Jackson first took an interest in Adam’s musical talents.

“He’s basically my inspiration behind music,” Adam, who plays the euphonium, said. “He was pumped about playing music and was always encouraging us to ‘play with fire in our eyes.’”

Adam will receive his Eagle rank early next year during a ceremony with his troop, Troop 15 out of Saint Frances United Methodist Church. He’s also an AP student at Providence and a member of the marching band, wind ensemble, Interact Club and Tri-M Music Honor Society at the school. He’s participated in several music groups such as the Charlotte Youth Wind Ensemble and Matthews Brass out of Matthews United Methodist Church.

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