Rick & Rocco’s Final Exam
This year is the last year that classes will be held in the building that I went to high school in. Frankly it is about time. They have been working on the new building and it will open for use next year. The class of 2010 will be the last class to graduate from the Newton North High School that I knew. Ironically, my mother’s class was the first to graduate for this building.
Over the past week there have been lots of celebrations, commemorations, and events related to the move. Last week the theatre department had a big reunion performance called Kiss the Stage, which I was a day late to be able to go to. However, last night, in the very last performance on the Lasker Stage was the final Rick ‘N Rocco Show. Rocco is a 50′s rock and roll show that started when my mother was in school and continued until I was in school and then stopped, and for one last time they got the band back together to do one final performance.
When I had heard that they were doing the show and I would be around I knew that I wanted to go. Of course yesterday morning some of the guys at NNHS gave me a shout to ask if I wanted to help. So I ended up being involved with the show which was a lot of fun. I got to run the lights for the last show at the theatre. Sure, some people may say that it is only high school, but it is kinda sentimental. I mean, I haven’t really been back there for a long time. There were a bunch of alumni involved in the show and there were even more who came just to see it. I can’t think of a better send off for the building.
The other really sentimental thing about the night was that we also celebrated the retirement of T (yes, we all called him T or Mr. T when we were in school and he also plays Rick in the show). T was the choir director at NNHS and he also was the musical director for the musicals that the theatre department produced. As I spent four years singing in the choirs and working on the shows it was really great to be invited to his retirement party.
T was an amazing teacher and a great friend. I spent most of my weeks at school looking forward to the times that I would get to spend in his classroom. I loved to sing then and I still do now. I sang first in the freshman ensemble, then in the Concert Chior and in the Family Singers both my junior and senior years. Yes, that meant that I was in two choirs for two years. We had the opportunity to sing some great pieces and do fun concerts. I even was a soloist in The Messiah which was a great experience.
Here is one of the piece that we sang in Family Singers. Right now it is one of the only ones that I have on my computer. I have more on some of my other drives, but they are not with me right now. This piece however is a good one. It is called “To You I Call.”
Singing in the choirs in high school under the direction of T was probably one of the most important things in my musical career. Learning how to sing in both large groups, small groups, solos and quartets was invaluable. Learning to sing in mixed groups not standing with your section or singing with an orchestra was great. We learned how to be independent, to work in groups and collaborate. There were plenty of life lessons that came out of that classroom, things that are probably more important and more useful in day-to-day life than came out of other classes. I certainly never asked myself: “When will I ever use this?” about anything in the choir room.
Mr. T had a great influence on many people’s lives. Going to the show and then to the party and seeing not only the people who I knew from school, but the alumni spanning a whole range of years was amazing. As T put it, everyone who came to wish him well you could sit with and talk to for hours about their experiences at NNHS and in his classroom, and how that helped get them to where they are today.
Of course, when you put all of these musical people in the same place at the same time what should happen but the instruments come out and the singing starts. We had people playing guitar (including myself), we got T playing the piano and everyone sang. Songs from all over the place. It really was a great thing to stand around the piano again with a whole bunch of people who stood around the piano with T over the years. This is what we do, it is really the best way to celebrate anything! I mean, we sang until 1:00 in the morning. At least we didn’t get in to singing something like “Kiss Today Goodbye,” because, while it might have been appropriate for the occasion, I think we all would have been crying by the end.
Well, everyone has to move on sometime, and while NNHS will be a different place without T, hopefully whoever takes over that position will have the same lasting impact on the students. I am sure that I would not be the same person I am today had it not been for the time I spent in Room 127 at NNHS, had it not been for T. I wish him and his family all the best and I hope that he enjoys his retirement. I will always keep the memories of his classes close, and I will always be thankful I have them.
Thus ends an era as we bring down the house.