The lead singer of Lonestar made a special appearance at the Lubbock Independent School District convocation Thursday, surprising many in the audience.
Richie McDonald, a 1981 graduate of Coronado High School, is a longtime friend and former roommate of LISD’s new superintendent Berhl Robertson — the reason the singer agreed to a private performance for district staff. McDonald sang his 2011 hit “Footprints on the Moon” at the piano accompanied by a select group of 60 LISD choir students.
“It was real personal and emotional to both of us,” Robertson said. He remembers talking with McDonald 25 years ago about their respective passions for education and music. They never thought they’d be acting out their dreams together.
For McDonald, the convocation was a chance to see the tables turned. In a phone interview Thursday, the singer said he knows Robertson has been following his career for years, but Thursday gave him an opportunity to see and experience his old friend’s accomplishments first hand.
“For me to come back and to see Berhl up there in front of the whole LISD and give his speech — it made me proud to be a part of it,” McDonald said. ”He’s worked hard to get to where he is at. He’s LISD’s superintendent, but to me he’s just one of my best friends. He’s just a good guy — a real person. I just wanted to come back and show my support.”
Robertson said he and McDonald have stayed in touch throughout the singer’s rise to fame, and he remembers when McDonald had his first hit single “Tequila Talkin’” in 1994. The two met through a mutual friend right after McDonald graduated from high school in Lubbock.
McDonald then moved to Dallas and later to Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tenn. where he currently resides. He split from Lonestar five years ago to spend more time with his family and watch his children grow up, he said, but has recently taken to the road again for a national tour with the group.
“It was Lonestar’s 20-year anniversary. It just made sense for me to get back in it. We’re back together now, and we’re having a great time,” McDonald said.
Their tour — consisting of 80 to 100 shows — won’t take them anywhere close to Lubbock, McDonald said, making his short trip home timely and special.
“It was an awesome experience,” McDonald said. “I always tell people Lubbock was just a wonderful place to grow up — not too big, not too small. It still has that same feeling to me when I drive around.”
During his short visit, McDonald also shot a commercial with LISD in the halls of Coronado. The theme was “That’s my story, and this is where it started,” he said.
Other notable guests appeared at the convocation, including speaker Bill Daggett, who holds a position on both the NASA and USA Today education advisory boards and works with LISD through funding from Raise Your Hand Texas.
LISD employees also enjoyed a video message from CBS Evening News Anchor Scott Pelley. A news release from the school district states Pelley talked about his high school journalism classes and the important role his teacher, Marjorie Wilson at Coronado High School, played in his career as CBS evening news anchor.
The theme of this year’s convocation was “Celebrating Our Story” and focused on student success in Lubbock ISD past, present and future, according to the release.
It was a great time, Robertson said. The guest speakers served to boost the energy in the room. Teachers had smiles on their faces and looked ready to start the new year.
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