By Winifred Graham
The Broward County Elementary Singing Principals, also known as the Goodwill Ambassadors of Broward County, will be honored by a reception and the placement of commemorative plaques, History of the Singing Principals and Picture Collages on the walls of the Old Dillard Museum on Feb. 22, 2017. The students of Walker Elementary Magnet School, as well as some of the former members of the “Singing Principals”, will perform at the reception.
History: In May of 1959, a Broward County Principal, Russell Rowe, accepted an “invitation from the Associate Superintendent of Broward County Schools to sing at the end of the year Administrator’s Banquet at the Reef Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Russ” as he is fondly called sang and played “Yellow Bird” on his guitar.
At the next year’s Administrator’s Banquet, Russ gathered a few Principal friends to join in the fun and perform with him. With a copy of the words to their songs and a quick rehearsal in the Men’s Room a few minutes before the performance, the “Singing Principals” was born.
After this humble beginning, two brave female principals joined the group in the early seventies and the Singing Principals continued to accept invitations to sing from professional and civic organizations. The enthusiasm displayed at each performance was contagious and other Principals “caught the fever”.
The first large audience that the Singing Principals performed for was at a Convention in Miami, Fla. for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. That performance resulted in a standing ovation of 6,000 convention attendees .
The advent of the eighties brought changes in style, costumes, and performances of the Singing Principals. The first Singing Principals concert to the public, “An Evening with the Singing Principals” was in March, 1984 at South Plantation High School. After that, the Singing Principals found themselves on the road performing to larger audiences throughout the United States. Performances were presented in Nashville, Tennessee, New Orleans, Louisiana and San Francisco, California. However, it was in Dallas, Texas in 1981, when Broward County became the largest fully accredited school system in the nation, that the Singing Principals performed and were acclaimed the “Goodwill Ambassadors” for Broward County.
On May 22, 1999 at the Broward Center for the Per-forming Arts Amaturo Theater, the 40th year reunion concert was presented. All Principals who had ever been Singing Principals, were invited to attend the concert and came down the aisles of that facility to the stage to sing once more a song that was sung by the Singing Principals for the past 40 years.