Reflections on the Class of 2016
Reflections and a Letter: To the Class of 2016
by Karen Veverka
Last night, I said good-bye to the class of 2016; the Skaneateles High School Orchestra Class of 2016, that is. How do you say good-bye to a class that has been extraordinary in your classroom for seven years?
Teachers don’t have it easy these days. Music teachers who strive for excellence can be easily discouraged by a worldly view of music as a common and unnecessary frill. However, the class of 2016 would make the teacher of any subject feel like the luckiest person in the world. I had the privilege of teaching the orchestra class of 2016 for seven years. The psychologists say we fall in love with someone who reflects our own image. If that is true, then I am in love with the orchestra class of 2016.
In a world where the whole idea of building character seems to be slipping away, there is Jimmy Drancsak. Jimmy, how did you get such a passionate spirit of music born in you? You reflect an entire generation of Ukrainian/Czech/ Eastern Europeans who came to this country as extraordinary musicians and composers. Dvorak and Karl Husa come to mind. Now I will be saying, Dvorak and Husa and Drancsak come to mind. Your daily way of life is an example to us all. Your faith is inspirational, and your concern for your fellow man is uplifting, making us aware of global welfare and how we should all contribute on a regular basis. On top of all this, you just happen to be an extraordinary violinist, with a personality to melt even the hardest of hearts. Chloe Strang, a beautiful, artistic young woman who is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside. You make the cello sing. Margaret Canty, a lovely, patient, wonderful student who would do anything you ask of her. Dominic Grasso, an extraordinarily gifted violinist who is one of the hardest-working students I have ever seen; your technique on the violin is second to none…but wait, speaking of extraordinarily hard workers, here is also Vinnie Viego; Harvard, watch out! Your school will never be the same. I had the extreme good fortune to be one of your teachers. Melanie Stearns…there you always were when I needed a hand. I can’t thank you enough for the part you played in this wonderful group. Jillian Van Leer and Finan Malcolm—you are the coolest. You added class to our ensemble. Eric Huba and Evan Bille, thank you for providing that all-important world perspective on everything. Our business world and economy will be safe in your hands. Aubrey Leverich and Zach Blair, thank you for staying with your instruments; your strength was something we always needed. Rachel Rhoads, your smile lights up my classroom in a way I will always miss. John Micciche, we were lucky to have you back this year. Your perspective on life is always enlightening. Sam Smith, your career unfolds before you as you embark on your ever-creative and amazing jazz career.
As a group, all of you made the string program thrive with your ability to care for each other as well as the music. The teamwork, camaraderie, and “espirit” I saw amongst you every day inspired me to try and be a better teacher for you.
The next time I am down about the world, the senseless violence I see on the news; the deterioration of our democracy into presidential campaigns which rival bad reality TV; the thoughtless actions of many; I will think of all of you; I will think of all the many privileged hours I spent in the classroom with all of you, and I will smile.