Return to Headlines

Prospect dedicates classroom to former band director David Morrison

Published September 13, 2022

By Noah Festenstein | Journal & Topics

Prospect High School students walking down the school’s hall of music classrooms will notice a deserved change to Room 153, now known as the “David Morrison Band Room.”

Morrison, a former 29-year Prospect band director and 2003 Illinois teacher of the year was honored Friday, Sept. 9 in front of family, former students and current band students who quickly learned of his great value to Prospect.

Appointed as director of bands in 1977, Morrison began a nearly three-decade tenure of influencing many students. “Morrison taught me the importance of being a part of something bigger than myself,” former student and Prospect Band Boosters President Dina Petricca said. “I am proud that now my kids are a part of the Prospect band and a part of this legacy that Morrison started.”

During his time, Morrison led the Prospect Marching Knights to 24 championships at University of Illinois Marching Festival, five-time finalist appearances at the Bands of America Grand National Championship, and performances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

Not only that, but Morrison helped Prospect bands win first division awards from the Illinois High School Association State Band Contest and the Chicagoland Symphonic Band Festival. His concert band also performed for presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

“This is only the fifth facility here at Prospect High School that is named after a former teacher or a person,” Associate Principal Frank Mirandola said. “This is the first classroom to be named after someone, and if there is anyone more well-deserving to have a classroom named after them, there is no doubt that is going to be Dave Morrison.”

Current band director, Chris Barnum, was handed off the band director position after Morrison retired from Prospect in 2006. “Mr. Barnum embodies a lot of similarities, much like Mr. Morrison, Barnum emphasizes excellence,” Petricca said.

Barnum took the podium to talk about his experience with Morrison. “He is quite simply one of the most driven teachers I have ever seen,” he said. “Dave’s passion for teaching is evident every single time he steps in front of an ensemble… there is just nothing else in this world more important to him than getting the very best out of his students.”

Then it was time for Morrison to speak, but first and foremost he wanted everyone in the room to introduce themselves, which for the majority, included former students of his, some who hadn’t been back to Prospect since graduating. 

For every person who spoke, some students from as far back as 1977, Morrison remembered them. He correctly named what instrument they played, what their major was and some of the nicknames he remembers them by.

“It thrills me to no end to anticipate that at some point in the far, far future. One of these fine people is going to see my name on this plaque and wonder, ‘who the heck was that guy?’” Morrison said. 

“I believe that all around us here are magical spaces where all things are not only possible, they are likely.”

Morrison is the father of actress Jennifer Morrison, who was also honored during Prospect’s homecoming week, and his son Dan Morrison who traveled from Los Angeles for the event. “All the students that are here from the late ‘70s and the ‘80s, it’s just a testament to how incredible of an impact my dad made on generations of people,” he said. “Not only is he so important to students, but the students are so important to him… I grew up in the Prospect band room, so for it to now be named after my dad, it just makes it that much more meaningful.”

Since retiring from Prospect in 2006, Morrison has served as adjunct music faculty for Northern Illinois University, VanderCook College of Music, and DePaul University. He also served as interim conductor of the Illinois Wesleyan University Wind Ensemble. 

Morrison’s honors include the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association, the Phi Beta Mu National Band Director’s Fraternity, and the Outstanding Chicagoland Music Educator Award. In 2003, Mr. Morrison was honored as the State of Illinois Teacher of the Year. Most recently Morrison published a book called “The Band Whisperer” in 2020.

As a final gesture, Morrison conducted the band’s rendition of the national anthem at Prospect’s homecoming football game Friday night. Whereas Morrison’s name will forever live on as being one of the most dedicated teachers to grace the halls of Prospect High School.

”This band room is going to stand as a permanent reminder of Dave’s legacy,” Barnum said. “Future generations of band students will forever know the name, Dave Morrison.”

Copyright © 2018-2022 Journal & Topics Online Media Group, Des Plaines, IL. All Rights Reserved.