Spaulding celebration for beloved music teachers ends in surprise

ROCHESTER – Spaulding High School principal Justin Roy drove a golf cart for Joanne Houston and Cheryl Richardson to Hugh Bolin Field, where people filling the stands greeted them with full-blown cheers.

Houston and Richardson retired as musical directors from the school this month after 37 years for Houston in Spaulding and 22 years for Richardson.

The event that honored them on Saturday, June 19 was the culmination of a week of recognition and appreciation from students, alumni, colleagues, administrators and city officials. Every day, bouquets, themed baskets and gifts relating to past productions and school trips were given to beloved educators. All things were surprises as the many contributors vowed to remain silent for two women who, jokingly, always knew “everything about everything”.

After:Music icons High Spaulding Houston and Richardson retire

On the evening of June 15, they were transported to Rochester Town Hall, where the mayor and city council handed them the keys to the town. They were then taken to a private room in the 110 Grill restaurant, where more than 40 members of a small group of supporters and volunteers waited, after watching the presentation on local television. Upon arrival, Richardson, with a huge smile, exclaimed, “All the people I love are here! Her response was accompanied by applause and hugs.

A crowd gathers for Joanne Houston and Cheryl Richardson's retirement celebration at Spaulding High School on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Upon arrival at Spaulding Field on June 19, the winners were set up in a tent with two “thrones”.

Participants in the stands were greeted by Rochester-native Gerry Gilbert, a longtime friend of the Spaulding music program, who traveled from his home in South Carolina to host the program.

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“It brings back a lot of memories of these two women,” he said. “They treated everyone the same, no matter who they were.” Gilbert added a classic Walt Disney quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

The hundreds of people in attendance were first entertained by a large number of present and former marching band members who elicited pleasant comments from the two former mentors. In addition to the marching band, they were also surprised and thrilled by the presentations from current and past members of the Color Guard and Spaulding Choir.

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Kurt Dupuis only had one year of guardianship from Joanne Houston and has never forgotten it. He participated by engaging all participants with several musical performances, including “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “What a Wonderful World” which he called “the one I have often played in the White House”. Dupuis is the principal trumpeter of the US Marines Band.

US Marines Band trumpeter Kurt Dupuis performs during a retirement tribute to Joanne Houston and Cheryl Richardson at Spaulding High School on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

Audrey Stevens and Matt Pappas, two Rochester School Board members, stepped in and congratulated Houston on their contribution to the community and informed them that a recent citizen suggestion had been made to the school board to take an important step.

“It took us a second to make that decision,” Pappas said, as he presented the certification that the Spaulding High School auditorium would now be known as the Joanne Houston Auditorium.

The description reads: “Dedicated to Joanne Houston for her 37 years of dedication, extraordinary vision, leadership and dedication to excellence in music education and the performing arts.”

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Houston said she was overwhelmed and humbled by this honor.

“It is an incredible honor to represent the incredible shows and concerts and all the wonderful people who have helped us produce incredible life experiences for all of our students over the years in our music department family,” he said. she declared. “It was a wonderful day that I will always remember. We had an amazing career at Spaulding High School.”

Houston and Richardson jointly presented a humorous tag team description of their modus operandi throughout their years of creative collaboration. Many Spaulding High School music veterans have expressed admiration for their time with Houston and Richardson.

One of them was Nikki Bourgeois, a 2010 Spaulding High School graduate and a music graduate from Plymouth State University, who takes up the new post of Music Director at Spaulding.

“I’m living my dream,” she said.

About Selena J. Killeen

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