Pat Deaville’s 11th book recounts his days as Lake Arthur band director

Published 7:23 am Sunday, May 19, 2024

A local author has penned a new book about the resilience of the Lake Arthur High School band during his tenure as the school’s band director in the ‘70s.

Former band director Pat Deaville (1974-1979) wrote the 200-plus page book ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Pride and Spirit Era of the Lake Arthur High School Tiger Band.

“A History of the Lake Arthur High School Band: Birth of the Pride and Spirit – the Foundation Years,” is Deaville’s 11th book.

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It is based on his experience as band director.

“I always promised my students and parents that I’d do something to mark the 50th anniversary,” Deaville said. “The book is my way of giving back to them and telling their amazing stories.”

The book covers the five years Deaville spent growing and developing the award-winning program.

“I arrived in Lake Arthur for my first teaching position 50 years ago in 1974,” he said. “My five-year tenure at the school was as much a learning experience for me as for my students.”

The band existed for decades before Deaville arrived, but it experienced what he described as an “unprecedented membership growth and re-establishment performance excellence” during his tenure.

Deaville said his hiring was the last ditch by former principal Allen Fitzgerald’s to keep the program from being eliminated.

Fresh out of the Army, Deaville turned down two other promising job offers to take the position at Lake Arthur High School.

“My mind was totally against it, but my heart kept telling me to take it,” he said.

Deaville was able to convince parents to buy their child musical instruments and recruited the school’s athletes. Those efforts helped save the program and turn it around, he said.

“When I began, there were only seven students enrolled in the single band class offered during the school day,” he said. “When I left in 1979, there were six band class with over 200 students enrolled in the band program. We had a new band room, new uniforms, a new culture and a new name, “The Pride and Spirit Band.”

The local paper affectionately called the group the “Cinderella band.” Others began referring to it as the “Miracle on the Lake.”

During his tenure, the band earned superior ratings in all areas of competition, including field marching, parade marching, auxiliary units, drum major, concert performance and sight-reading. One of the group’s proudest moments was representing Lake Arthur while marching down Main Street USA at Disney World in Orlando, FL.

The group held rock-a-thons and Miss Lake Arthur pageants to help raise funds to attend band competitions across the state, Texas and Mississippi. They also performed and marched in parades and at football games.

“When we marched in our first parade that’s when everyone knew we were for real,” he said.

When the band needed new uniforms, the band mothers and students met at a local church and in their homes forming assembly lines to sew the uniforms. The group also helped make flags for members of the band’s flag unit.

“This incredible story demonstrates what can be done at a small school in a rural town when everyone is willing to work together towards a common goal,” Deaville said. “I hope the stories, pictures and lessons will bring back memories to band alums and and inspire young musicians and directors to believe in the power of music, children and community.”

The book shares many behind-the-scenes stories from former band students, faculty members and parents who contributed to the book by providing comments, inspirational messages, pictures and memories.


The book is available at the Seafood Palace in Lake Charles and Blue Heron in Lake Arthur. Copies have also been placed in all four branches of the Jeff Davis Parish Library and at the Lake Arthur High School Library.