My holiday fashion article would have been shortly followed by one about the beauty of holiday music. Teachers across our nation have had an especially difficult week, and I only got as far as the title of my article about our high school’s recent music performance, “Holiday Beauty at Hale Ray, Brought To Us By Rose Marie Evans”. I often write about my dad in this blog, and after experiencing my first high school concert with my daughter, I had hoped to share my recollections of listening to holiday music with my dad instead of sharing the grim fact that we have both come face to face with an armed gunman (shooting at another drug-dealer, not kids or teachers) at our workplaces. Last week, the night before the terrible events of Sandy Hook occurred, Annie and I were treated to beautiful Christmas and Chanukah songs performed by several different singing groups at Hale Ray High School in East Haddam, Connecticut. With only four hundred students attending this school, we have budgeted for only one music teacher, which is why I am so surprised that our school features so many different instrumental and vocal groups. Is it possible that Rose Marie Evans is able to time-travel or somehow replicate herself to conduct all of these different practices? Luckily, a newly hired staff member happens to be an accomplished pianist. Although Madame Molly Lathrop, mom of one marathon-runner-daughter accompanied the chorus groups, she declares that Rose-Marie Evans, the Hale Ray Music Director deserves all of the credit for the event.
Any counselor worth her diplomas will probably advise against reliving one’s childhood through their own child, but I don’t think it such a terrible choice for Annie to visit my high school, just as I often visited my father’s high school when I was a child. Since I am an only child, which was less common in the 70’s and 80’s than it is today, my parents took more opportunities to socialize me than did other teacher-dads and runner-moms. My flashes of memory from my toddler years involve running out onto the baseball field while my dad was coaching (someone always scooped me up before I could get hurt) and watching road-races that my mom participated in. My father recently taught my daughter Annie a cheer that I learned as a toddler from some of his students in the 1970’s, “Mercy! Body! Boom-boom-girls. Shout out for love!” My father’s large high school always had a renowned music program, even in the early 1960’s when he was a student there. Apparently I never had any fear of strangers in a school setting, which seems to be an apparent trait for Annie as well. Rose-Marie included a sing a long portion to her production, so after being treated to skillfully worked seasonal favorites such as “Shalom Chaverim” and “Mary, Did You Know?” younger children were encouraged to take the stage with the teenagers to belt out less complicated tunes like “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”. Annie was scooped up by a female cross-country runner and singer who had informed me about the sing along portion of the performance at 7:10 that morning during passing time in the hallway. I had planned to bring Annie to the concert anyway, but I was thrilled that Rose Marie had come up with a means of making the concert even more special for families in our communities by allowing the little ones to come together with their teen role models on the stage. Rose Marie is a hero for bringing such beautiful songs to life in East Haddam. As my other teacher-friends and I stood gasping and crying in front of the television monitors at our gym Friday afternoon, Annie said “go to mommy’s high school more, sing with the kids more mommy!” Our babies are still ready to take in more of the world’s beauty whether they are age twenty-three like Rose Marie’s daughter or barely three like my own. Please celebrate our teachers this holiday season, especially teachers like amazing working mom of three, Rose Marie Evans!