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The 46-member Jay Junior-Senior High School Marching Band performs at the Blackwater Classic Marching Band Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at Milton High School.

Being in the Milton High School Marching Band gave Russell Greene his path in life. 

On Saturday evening, Greene, from the Milton class of 2008, found his way back to the school — as a band director.

Greene brought with him the Trinity Presbyterian School “Wildcat Pride” Marching Band from Montgomery, Alabama, to compete at the Blackwater Classic Marching Band Festival at Milton High School’s Hurley Manning Field. 

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Greene’s 31-member band was one of 12 high school bands — and the smallest — at the second-year festival hosted by Milton High School and band director Gray Weaver.

Weaver, with 24 years as the band director at Milton, is a mentor to Greene. 

“Mr. Weaver is like a second father to me and I owe him a lot,” said the 27-year-old Greene, who was a four-year member of Weaver’s Milton bands, playing the French horn and later serving as drum major. “He helped me find what I wanted to do in life. I liked the type of person he was and it made me want to follow in his footsteps.” 

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The Pensacola-area schools at the festival were: Jay Junior-Senior High School, Escambia and Gulf Breeze. There were also schools from Holmes County and Panama City Beach and three others from Alabama: Alabama Christian from Montgomery, Satsuma and Foley, which was the biggest band of the night with 251 members. 

Host Milton, with 210 performers, was the last show of the night as an exhibition entry.  Milton received scores, but the band did not…