Tellico Plain High School principal Russell Harris returned 10News call Tuesday afternoon. He said he takes full responsibility for the trophy incident, and would like to apologize for what happened.
Harris said he is thankful somebody retrieved the awards, and the school will now install a shelf to display the school trophies.
He said individual awards will likely be returned to students who wish to keep them.
(WBIR - Tellico Plains) Students and alumni at one East Tennessee high school are trying to figure out how their trophies ended up in a dumpster.
In June, the Monroe County School Board cut the band department at Tellico Plains High School, due to dwindling numbers. Last weekend, former band members say they rescued several trophies from a dumpster behind the school.
"Somebody told me some items were thrown in the dumpster, and that some faculty up there had retrieved them and set them alongside the dumpster. So some fellow alumni and I decided to go up there and get these trophies because we wanted to give them a home for now," said Edward Mansfield, a 2006 graduate, and former band captain and percussion leader.
"And when we went up there to get them, they were back in the dumpster," he said.
Mansfield said the trophies were previously housed in the band room at the high school. He counted about 40 awards rescued.
Monday afternoon, school leaders did not return a call and email request made by 10News seeking more information.
Some alumni, like 2007 graduate Ashley McKenzie, aren't convinced the incident was an accident.
"Maybe the first time they ended up in the dumpster, I could understand," McKenzie said. "One or two, not all of them. But the second time they ended up in there," she said before trailing off.
She also expressed disappointment with the band program's end.
"It's heartbreaking. Music is a very big part of my life."
"When you're a part of that you wonder, 'What kind of legacy is going to be left behind? What's going to show the accomplishments you had while you were there?' As well as the band members before and band members after," added Mansfield.
He and several other alumni will hold onto the trophies temporarily, but they plan to ask the school board for a display case at the high school. If that isn't successful, he plans to return the awards to the former students who earned them.
"It's more than just the alumni or the band, it's a part of Tellico Plains High School history that should be displayed," he said.