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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chichester Alumni Community Band is open to everyone who ever played an instrument in high school band

One day I met a lady who had a jacket on that said Guitar With Gloria. Curious I asked "What is Guitar With Gloria?" and that was the start of a conversation you should hear. The lady, Gloria Hoffner told me her story of having been a journalist for many years for Philadelphia Newspapers. As her career in the field of journalism started to wind down, Gloria like many folks wanted a new career in a field where she could earn money but enjoy herself doing something she loved. Having been in a band in high school and being in love with music much of her life, she decided to explore her options in the music field. She started a business called Guitar With Gloria where she would offer her services to sing at nursing homes and assisted living centers throughout Delaware County. Although her business grew rapidly she continued to volunteer her time as a member of the Chichester Alumni Band. Curious again I asked "What is the Chichester Alumni Band?" To which she answered:

"The Chichester Alumni Community Band's members are graduates of Chichester and is open to everyone who ever played in a high school band. We have members from Notre Dame, Sun Valley, Cardinal O'Hara, Swarthmore - a great mix of wonderful people.,

Here is the back ground....Kathryn Forwood started the Chi high school band in the 1950s when she was hired as a choral teacher. Her life long dream was to be a band leader but she had to fight West Chester University who told her "you can't take conducting classes because there are no women band conductors" and later the high school who said "there will be no woman band director at this school". She pressed forward, started the band and after she retired the school named the auditorium in her honor.

Later at a reunion, her former students came together and formed the Chi Alumni band to play and surprise her. They later decided to stay together as an alumni band. A few years later at the request of community residents who did not attend Chi, the band added "community" and welcomes all former band members of any high school. The band also has a band front.

The band plays a concert once a month at a local nursing home, a summer outdoor community concert in Marcus Hook and participates in local parades. The band presents a scholarship each year to a Chi grad majoring in music in college.

Our director Audrey Murphy, is a graduate of Chi, and has her masters in music. She directed a high school band in Delaware and is now retired." said Gloria.

"Wow!" I replied. "This sounds like a great activity for senior citizens and retirees in the community and they probably don't know anything about it".

So if you are looking for a fun group to get involved with, the Chichester Alumni Band might be for you. If interested, contact: Jason CollisonPresident and Percussion Captain of the Chichester Alumni Band at:

The band welcomes new members!


  1. Great job sounds like a fun group
    thank you

  2. Thanks for posting this, I was a member of the Chichester Marching Band in the late 60s. It was quite the band and won alot of awards. Ms. Ford is so inspiring.

  3. It's a great feeling to get back into playing. The true satisfaction is performing at nursing homes in the area. Through our music, we touch the heats of many elderly people who truly appreciate the joy we bring to them through music. PRICELESS!!

    A new band member

  4. Best wishes to the Chichester Community Band. I followed Kitty Forward at Chi in 1967. First as a sabbatical replacement, then in 1969 as band director. I admire her both as a pioneering WOMAN band director, and as a band director PERIOD. Bob Nugent used to say: “If they made Kitty Forward football coach, she would probably have a winning team!” She was both an inspirational leader and a first-rate organizer. The Chichester Band Association was a devoted group and wonderful to work with. And of course Al Sacko was drill instructor nonpareil, and he and Kitty made an unbeatable combination. Mr. Sacko and I worked hard at keeping up the traditions that made the Chi-band the best in Delaware County.
    In 1972 the new superintendent (I’ve repressed his name) announced to me that I should stop using junior high students in the high school band. I felt that was one of the keys to the success of the program and took his dictum as my cue to seek a new position elsewhere. I enjoyed my years at Chichester and am ever grateful to the wonderful people of that community for the care and support they gave me in my time there.

    Chuck Smith
    (check out the Chi Band pictures on my facebook page)

  5. Chuck,
    Thank you so much for your grand statements of Kitty. She was a tough act to follow, but you continued that great band until you left. I was a 1st trumpet, though not first chair in Kitty's band and yours. I graduated in '69 and will always remember the tough stand that Al Sacko took on his relentless side of the marching. We did Eagles on TV stints as well as the Battle of the Bands in Philly. Cardinal Dougherty always seem to have a jump on us with the size of their band, but we won most other titles. I didn't always enjoy Al's style for our marching side, but in retrospect, he was the best, and am quite pleased that he was there for all of us. He was so hard on us that one parent actually told him he would 'have his job!' Al told him - 'go ahead - I'm not paid for this anyway!' His son played the trombone and best friend Barry D shared my exact birthday and hour.
    My mother drove the school bus for Bill Forward during my days at CHI. Those were truly some of my greatest memories of CHI and Kitty and your band. We truly were the best there was. When I left the CHI band for USNA, 'our' band with my sister, went to Canada for a major competition and ended up 2nd in all of North America. I ended up playing in the US Naval Academy's D&B Corps, all from Kitty's and your commitment to music..well done Chuck and thank you. So, where are you now? Steve Harkins

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