June 30, 2013

Barnett deserves honor

The Daily Citizen

— For 20 years, George “Smitty” Barnett has made beautiful music at Northwest Whitfield High School, often working 10 to 12 hours a day.

As the school’s band director, he has taught countless students musicianship, showmanship and character. Under his direction, the Blazing Blue has won recognition as one of the best marching bands in the state, winning many competitions and getting chosen to play in high-profile events such as the Sugar Bowl and the Gator Bowl.

Barnett’s students have gone on study in some of the nation’s top college music programs and to perform in some of the nation’s top bands.

It was one of those former students, Dean Woods, who helped make sure that, for once, the spotlight got turned on Barnett.

Woods is now a staff sergeant in the United States Army and a bassoonist with the U.S. Army Band, also known as “Pershing’s Own” because it was founded by Gen. John Pershing.

Woods helped arrange for Barnett to be invited to play with Pershing’s Own this August. The exact date hasn’t been decided yet.

“Everyone has a teacher that stands out in your mind,” Woods said. “You don’t go out and say, ‘I’ll mentor this person.’ The opposite is true. You don’t say, ‘I want this person to mentor me.’ It just happens. Later on in life, I look back and I see how much of a major influence he was on me; how he took the time.”

We are sure that Barnett stands out in the minds of many other students and former students for his dedication and compassion.

The opportunity to play with Pershing’s Own is an honor he richly deserves, and we are sure he will represent Whitfield County well.