Updated with audio interview: For Abby Matthews, a clarinet player for Woodland High, the trip to march in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just got even sweeter — thanks to Bob and Dolores Hope.

Updated with audio interview: For Abby Matthews, a clarinet player for Woodland High, the trip to march in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade just got even sweeter — thanks to Bob and Dolores Hope.



Hometown Podcast: Abby Matthews spent more than five minutes talking about the Hope honor and trip to New York with Hometown Headlines Radio Edition on WRGA 98.7 FM Wednesday morning. She talks about her winning essay, her first flight — and whether her buddies are buying her meals in appreciation for also earning the Woodland High band a $10,000 donation.


Abby Matthews, a clarinet player, and theWoodland High School Wildcat Marching Bandwere named the 2018 recipients of the 15th Annual Bob Hope Band Scholarship Award. The award is decided on the merit of an an essay competition about Bob Hope and the importance of giving back. The announcement was made by Wesley Whatley, creative director, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.   Abby, 16, will perform in the parade on Thursday; it can be seen on NBC from 9 a.m. until noon.

Wishing safe travels to our Marching Wildcats, who left on Tuesday for their trip to New York City to march in the Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade. The parade is on NBC and our kids are expected to be on TV during the 11 o’clock hour.

This is the 15th consecutive years that Macy’s and the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation have presented the Bob Hope Band Scholarship Award. The scholarship is designed to honor one outstanding band member and their school band program participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The award is especially meaningful because, during their lifetimes, Bob and Dolores Hope were truly honored and delighted to be featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and recognized for their service. Moreover, as a gifted song and dance man, Bob knew the importance of music, especially to young people.

“On behalf of the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation, and particularly on behalf of my dad, Bob Hope, I want to congratulate Abby Matthews on her most creative essay,” said Linda Hope. “I know that my parents would be very proud that such an accomplished and caring young woman was this year’s scholarship recipient.”

Both Abby, as the student winner, and the school band receive $10,000 each (her’s for scholarship, the rest for the band program).

Abby is a junior at Woodland High School. She lives with her parents, Jennifer and Jeremy Matthews, and her siblings Wilson, 15, Laney, 12, and Ellie, 2.  Her special interests and accomplishments include the school Academic Team, Spanish Honors Society, Beta Club, Tri-M Music Honors Society (officer), Band Captain of WHS Marching Band, Student Council and being a member of 4-H where she has shown livestock. Abby has traveled with the marching band to Florida, Tennessee and now, New York City. Abby is an aspiring doctor and plans to use her scholarship money toward her education.

Like many of the student recipients of the Bob Hope Band Scholarship, Abby learned about Bob Hope through research for her essay. As she studied the life of Bob Hope, Abby noted in her essay, Hope’s life was a series of accomplishments that were earned by way of his hard work and discipline. Bob Hope was admired because he always made it known he was grateful for his success. He showed that by selflessly lifting up others and giving back – particularly by what he did for the troops and veterans as an immigrant to the USA.

“We are so incredibly proud of Abby Matthews and her accomplishments as a musician and leader in our school and community. Abby works tirelessly and selflessly to achieve her goals. She has inspired her peers and continually inspires me to be the best director I can be. The scholarship funds will be such a blessing to Abby and our band program. We have many instrument in disrepair and are needing to replace many unrepairable instruments, therefore, we will be using all scholarship funds to help improve the quality of our musical instrument inventory,” said music educator Eric Willoughby, Director of Bands at Woodland High School for 11 years.

The Woodland High School Band program was awarded the Exemplary Performance Award from the Georgia Music Educators Association.The band was recognized as a Regional Winner of the National Band Association Program of Excellence “Blue Ribbon” Award.  2018 marks Woodland’s Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade debut where they will be performing “Joyful, Hallelujah!” – this arrangement is a medley that features music from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony “Ode to Joy,” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

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