John J. Fizzell taught at Marianna High School in the 1950s. He was respected for his fairness, his support of his students, and his encouraging spirit.
Fizzell was noted around MHS for his outstanding work as director of the band. He graduated from McKendree College Conservatory of Music with a B.A. degree. He spent most of his time working, for he not only directed the band but directed the Drum and Bugle Corps at Graham Air Force Base, and the First Methodist Church Choir.
Under the direction of Fizzell, the Marianna High School Band furnished music for all types of school and community events. The first three months of the school year were the busiest for MHS band students, for they had long practices to perfect their half time show for Friday Night Lights. December begins practice for concert music which is performed in March. In 1958, Fizzell added a Country Band Clinic to its list of activities. It was held in February with the MHS band hosting. The clinic was highlighted by a final concert in which many of the MHS band members participated.
Linda Sims was the 1958 Drum Majorette and she said in the 1958 Majaflo, “This is what I will miss the most of all. I loved this along with the band.”
In a 1959 Majaflo, Fizzell said, “Practice makes perfect,” therefore our band practices as much as possible in order to give the best performance. The first twelve weeks of the school year, the band marches every afternoon and on Thursday nights to perfect the halftime shows. These practices are interspersed with special events such as parades for Kids’ Day, the Peanut Festival, Homecoming, Christmas, and the dedication of a Blue Star Memorial Highway. In January the band will play host to the second annual Jackson County Band Clinic, after which they begin concentrating on music for the spring concert which will be presented in early May.”
The MHS marching band was the pride of the school and favorite of the crowd, lending a musical air to a downtown parade.
Herman Carr had the opportunity to work with Fizzell prior to his leaving MHS, “There isn’t a harder working teacher, who cares more about his students’ success. He’s one of the first to arrive on campus and one of the last to leave. He will match coaches for after hours working. And it has shown in the band and their performances.”
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