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Remembering the lives of Aaron Bates & Aaron Bates II

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

To our loving Dreadnaught Band Family & Friends,

As many of you may have already heard, the Dreadnaught Band has suffered a great loss. On Saturday, February 26th, 2022, our current Head Drum Major Aaron Bates II (AJ), along with his father Aaron Bates (LHS Head Drum Major 1999-2000), passed away tragically due to a car accident on the way to Aaron II's FSU School of Music Audition.

It is difficult to find words to express the impact that these two men had on the Dreadnaught Band program. The Bates instilled an unparalleled sense of determination and commitment into the spirit of every band member, modeling habits to last for a lifetime. As excellent bandsmen, their service, leadership, and passion for the program filled us with smiles, laughter, and meaningful memories that we have all come to cherish. They created uncontainable joy for whomever they came in contact with, both in the band and in our community.

In this period of immense and sudden loss, it is important to remember that we are not alone in this grief. We are united together as generations of music-makers, creating a Dreadnaught Band Family that spans beyond blood and time. Remember to have grace with one another. And as we all mourn together, we will reflect upon the attitudes, standards, and values that the Bates instilled on everyone in the Dreadnaught Band during their time of service.

Whether you had a personal or professional relationship with Aaron & AJ, you know the legacy they leave behind is one of excellence. In order to honor them both, we will soon be opening an online space for family and friends of the Dreadnaught Band to submit photos and your favorite memories with them. (These will be compiled in a memorial project that will release at a later date.) Aaron II’s band room chair and locker will remain open and undisturbed for members to stop and pay their respect, and to leave letters, items, and mementos for the family.

Take time to look back on all the memories you share with Aaron & AJ, keep the Bates family and their friends in your thoughts and prayers, and practice kindness to yourself and others as we all begin to process the unimaginable loss of two bright shining souls that were a major part of the Dreadnaught Band and LHS Cheer programs.

A joint funeral service will be held this Saturday, March 5th at Access Church (4303 S Florida Ave, Lakeland, FL) beginning at 2:00pm. Doors open at 1:30pm. The service is open to the public. We encourage attendees to wear yellow, as it was Aaron II's favorite color.

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing more information about our memorial project, memories of Aaron & AJ, and how you can help support the family and our program. Stay updated by visiting our website here at, and please consider donating to Mrs. Katie Bates and her four children by clicking here:

Even in this incredibly difficult time, the Bates’ spirits live on in us through the impact they left on each of our hearts. Their contagious laughter, unmatched leadership talents, and dedication to the Dreadnaught Band will never be forgotten. In our time of mourning, remember the outlook with which the Bates approached adversity; let us think of the passage in Romans 5: 3-4, which says, “But we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

With love and hope,

-- The Dreadnaught Band

Written by Hannah Smith, LHS Head Drum Major 2019-2020

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