Band of Eagles: Honoring a Legacy of Music, Service, and Leadership

Story by Ammie Bryant

Jared Croston is working to earn his Eagle Scout Rank. Photo provided by Lisa Croston.

Jared Croston’s family has a long history with BSA. His grandfather, granduncles, father, and uncles were all Boy Scouts. Now, Croston is following in those footsteps. He’s a Life Scout with Troop 820 working to earn his Eagle Rank.

For the Eagle Rank, Scouts are required to “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or the community. The project must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.” (scouting.org)  Croston’s project is to install a Memorial Flag Plaza at the National Headquarters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, located at the former Santa Fe Railway Depot in Stillwater. The plaza will include installation of three flag poles, brick pavers, landscaping, and lighting. The location is not only the home of the National College Band Service Fraternity and Sorority, but it is also often visited by train enthusiasts and those interested in our local history.

Dale Croston and son, Jared Croston, 2012. Photo provided by Lisa Croston.

The inspiration for this project begins with Jared’s dad. Dale Croston was also an Eagle Scout and an alumnus of both ΚΚΨ and ΤΒΣ. He joined ΚΚΨ as a member of the OSU marching band in 1985. Dale held many volunteer and leadership roles in ΚΚΨ, and he was the National Chapter and Colony Education Coordinator in 2013 when he passed away. The new flag plaza will provide a resting place for a plaque honoring Dale.

Jared is more than 70% towards his fundraising goal of $10,000 for the project. With the funds already raised, the flagpoles have been purchased and installed. He hopes to finish the plaza by the time school starts this month. It’s his senior year and Marching Band Camp is in full swing with the season requiring a major time commitment throughout the fall.

Jared is following in his father’s footsteps in more than one way: Scouts and Marching Band. This project will not only earn Jared his Eagle Scout Rank, but it will also honor an organization that has been very important to both of his parents. Dale and Lisa met while attending OSU and playing in the Marching Band in the mid-to-late 80s. Lisa was a member of ΤΒΣ.

Lisa Croston and son, Jared at 2017 SHS Homecoming. Photo by Clay Billman.

Kappa Kappa Psi was founded in 1919 at OAMC, when most college bands were associated with ROTC. The founding members were soldiers returning from World War I, and were interested in forming a fraternity. Kappa Kappa Psi was founded to fill this desire and to provide an outlet for service and support for the work of band directors.

College bands were predominantly male up until World War II. During World War II, women stepped in to fill a wide range of roles that were left open by the men who were fighting in the war,  including college bands. After World War II, many traditionally male institutions became increasingly coed. In 1946, Tau Beta Sigma was founded at OAMC as a sister organization to Kappa Kappa Psi, for the women of the OAMC college band. By the 1970s, with the establishment of Title IX, bands were coed. Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma remained separate organizations with different cultures, but their missions were similar.

Next summer, Kappa Kappa Psi will celebrate its centennial. Members from all over the country will come to Stillwater to participate in the celebration and to visit the National Headquarters. National Executive Director for Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma Steve Nelson said, “We have a historic property in Stillwater and with the funds we have, we try to do what we can to keep it up and enhance it the best that we can and the flagpoles [and memorial plaza] are a part of it.”

The Memorial Flag Plaza will be located directly behind the front sign which is a popular spot for group photographs. “It’s a good landmark,” Jared explained. While the flagpoles were installed in July, Croston needs the rest of the funding to be able to complete the project.

If you would like to donate to Jared Croston’s Eagle Scout Project visit https://eagle.kkytbsonline.com. Donations are being accepted by Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity, a 501 (c) 3 corporation so all donations are tax-deductible. If you have any questions about donating to the project please call Di Spiva at National Headquarters at 405-372-2333.

Jared Croston watches as three flagpoles are installed at the National Headquarters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma. Photo provided by Steve Nelson.
Installation of three flagpoles at the National Headquarters of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma. Photo provided by Steve Nelson.