I address this letter to you who have never discovered the "hidden gem" we have in our music department of our Marshalltown schools. Many are aware of the outstanding band and vocal departments we have under the quality leadership of Mr. Lee and Mrs. Ose.
I could write a lengthy dissertation about what they've done for our students; I've been to all of their great programs. But I want to focus on this "hidden gem" that has quietly blossomed in recent years. Six years ago Megan Stucky was hired to teach orchestral music, a program that had gradually fallen into "near extinction" over the years. She was literally starting from scratch. However, that first year she had enough vision and boldness to take the MHS orchestra to state music contest - there were seven students in her orchestra, so that's what she took. They received a Division III rating.
This year she took an orchestra consisting of 36 students and came home with a Division I rating - that spells SUPERIOR! She also entered 12 solos and small groups; they all received Division I scores! Last week I attended the spring orchestra concert. The program began with fifth graders from Lenihan Intermediate School and the area Catholic school. I've always thought the growing pains of beginning violins to be a bit harsh to the ears. Shame on me for taking a book along to read, thinking I would be hearing the cacophonous attempts at struggling whole notes trying to stay together. Whoa! Twenty-one students appeared on stage standing at rapt attention waiting for Mrs. Stucky to enter. (I put my book away.) Obviously, these students had been well trained concerning proper stage etiquette. They performed their five short pieces with musical precision completely from memory. Some playing cello and bass were straddling instruments larger than they were! Next, 22 sixth graders appeared on stage with equal musicianship and discipline followed by 28 Miller Middle School students. The program concluded with 36 high school students giving a stellar performance and showcasing a high goal for the younger students to hear and observe. Mrs. Stucky gave special recognition to her six graduating seniors and shared some interesting anecdotes about each one. Three of those seniors are headed to the UNI School of Music to continue what began because of the fine opportunity they've received at MHS.
Thank you Mrs. Stucky, Mrs. Ose and Mr. Lee; you've given these students an appreciation of good music and have shared your love for the fine arts.