Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thirty Years is A LONG TIME!

Highschool, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times:

Witness the awesomeness of my hair.  It was big people, and BIG was in!  I WISH I had a scanner so you could actually see this picture better.  Or could see the next pictures AT ALL.  But, what ya gonna do.

What made highschool good, or fun, or bareable for you?  For me, it was my friends AND choir.  I loved choir, it was my place.  I was a good singer, it was a safe place.  There were cute boys that I had secret crushes on. AND, there were these hideous dresses.  Which, for the record were NOT what made highschool bareable.

A shot of Honor Choir (our top choir) circa 1990.  These tragic dresses made of the worlds clingiest material, and their cowell neck were first worn my Jr. year.  They kept these same dresses for at least 10 years after this.  Oh the humanity.

This is the most "elite" group, called "Madrigals."  We got to wear formals, it was so "cool."  But apparently, noone gave me the memo that everyone would have pink or light colored dresses.  So, there I am rockin the junebug green number.

Whatever, you only WISH you had hair and dresses as cool as this.  That girl in front is totally my friend Crystal, she had awesome hair for sure!  You should see how beautiful she is now!

I loved choir, I really did.  It was fun.  We got to go on fun trips, and play at Disneyland or Magic Mountain.  We got to perform at random places.  I got to develop my talent.  I made lifelong friends.  It is one of the places that shaped me for my future.

I was lucky enough to be good, really good. I got many solos, I was known for having one of the better voices. So I have many wonderful memories of my time in Honor Choir. Sitting next to my friends and constanly talking and laughing. We drove the poor man crazy. And yet, he was able to get greatness out of us. However, it is here that I share one of my most embarrassing moments in LIFE, which happened to be in choir, on stage.

Picture with me if you will......

Senior year, ALL SCHOOL Assembly. Auditorium is PACKED! Keeping in mind, good voice or not, I was still totally the chubby chick, therefore, some self - esteem issues were to be had. Anyway, I have a big ol' solo to start this song. I'm down there, I rock the house, it's totally awesome. The crowd is loving me. I finish my solo.

As I begin my ascent up the risers to my spot, things take a terrible turn, and somehow, I find myself hurtling face first towards the drumset. Yeah, ASS (big one)_ to the audience and I'm flying towards the drums. I somehow manage to miss the drumset, pick myself up and step very nonchallantly into my place with my group. Of course the audience is a buzz. Is she hurt, is she ok? That was the funniest damn thing ever....etc. I finished the song like nothing had happened. But, people just could NOT leave it alone. I must have been asked a billion times by the whole freaking school if I was ok. I was fine, however my pride, she was not. What made it WORSE? Two things.

1. One day after the concert when I wasn't ther for some reason, Mr. Harris had a video of the concert, and they rewound and watched my fall SIX times! Not cool Jeffo, NOT COOL!

2. The whole next year, my poor younger sister would get. "Oh, it was YOUR sister that fell huh?"

Seriously! Not my most shining moment. But hey, at least I made a lasting impression.

But, all good things must come to an end sometime.  And the time has come for our community to say goodbye to the best choir director around.

Last night I had an amazing opportunity to take part in a surprise alumni reunion choir in honor of our choir directors retirement after THIRTY YEARS as director at my  highschool.  They had their annual Spring Sing/pops concert and at the end, the directors daughter took the stage and told him there were "some people" that wanted to say something, or rather sing something for him.  At that point, 300+ people stood and began making their way to the stage.  To say he was surprised and stunned would be an understatement.  It was very emotional to watch him weep as he recognized so many and realized the impact he had made.  We stood and sang as he directed, for his final time there, his favorite song.  It was emotional and exhilirating to say the least.  He truly is a phenomenal musician, teacher and director.  His choirs are not just good, but REALLY good. 

Mr. Harris and his first inkling that something was "going on".

As he looked around and recognized students, and the magnitude of the situation, the tears flowed.

This is only one side of the stage.  There were people all across the front and covering the other half of the stage as well.  It must have looked and sounded amazing from the audience.

Just proving that I was up there.  Can you see me?

Just a totally random shot of some girls back.  I'm showing you the Reunion shirt.  This was serious peeps, there was a secret committe for everything.  It could NOT have been a better pulled off surprise.

After the concert, when my younger brother and his friends were all crowded around Mr. Harris, reliving the memories, I jokingly said, "please, stop trying to be his favorites."  They laughed and he said, "but 1994 really was a special year."  To which I reminded him..."Puh lease, you ain't NEVER had a better group do "Lord if I gots my ticket" EVER!"  Then he got a look of happy recognition on his face and said, "it's true."  We sang that at a national choral convention in my totally awesome senior year of 1990.  We were so good that a college group slated to sing that same song refused to sing it after us.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  And to that I replied.."I rest my case."  Then I looked at my brother and his puny friends and said: "SUCK ON THAT."  Ok, I didn't really say that to them.  For goodness sake, his year did produce a sort of redonkulous amount of gifted and talented singers.  But, I did feel smugly validated!

Jeffy, as we sometimes like to refer to our fearless choral leader, was talented beyond even his own understanding.  Truly, the man should have been a soloist somewhere, anywhere in the world.  His voice was/is one of the most beautiful tenor voices I've ever heard.  And yet, he only shared it with a bunch of punky high school kids.  I would literally "pray" that he would sing, just for a chance to hear the glory.  On top of that, he could whistle more beautifully than anyone I've ver heard.  That IS a skill people.  My senior year we did a song that called for whistling, a real tune, and a lot of it.  He saved the sorry boys and their lack of whistling skills.  Even facing away from the audience, you could hear it louder than all the boys facing out.

He built a fabulous and respectable program at a school that has often been looked upon as "ghetto."  Shoot, even when my sister was in highschool, WAY BACK in 1982-84 (sorry Dana) she was like, "Eww Westwood is so ghetto."  What she didn't realize is that the people around here that aren't ghetto like are truly some of the greatest EVER!  The saying goes...our blood runs deep orange.  And it does.  The root are deep and thick and people like to come back here and are now raising their kids to have the Warrior pride.  So, while it isn't in the most "affluent" area, and could possibly have some ghettoey aspects, the choir has ALWAYS been cool.  It has always been great.  Football jocks stood next to drama geeks and basketball stars right along side others deemed "not so cool" in the pain that is highschool.  Choir was a place to be united in one thing, making beautiful music.

So thank you Jeff Harris for 30 years of greatness!  Thanks for the music and the memories!  We're gonna miss ya old friend.

Big hair and Big goodbyes,


This is part of his biography that I found on the schools website.  Is this "maestro" picture killing you like it is me?"  So awesome!


Under his direction, the Honor Choir has appeared before the Arizona Music Educators In-Service Conference in 1991, 1994, and 1997, 2000 and 2003. The Honor Choir has been appeared before the Western Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Los Angeles (1988)(my brothers year), Fresno, California (1990) (THAT'S ME YA'LL), Sacramento, California (1994)(other brothers year), and Reno, Nevada in 1998.

Mr. Harris is a past-president of the Arizona Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and the Choral Section of the Arizona Music Educators Association. He also serves as Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church in Mesa and is the founding conductor of the Sonoran Desert Chorale, a community adult choir based in Mesa. Mr. Harris was named Arizona Music Educator of the Year in 2008 by the Arizona Music Educators Association.


Jason and Kate said...

LOL! You had me at junebug green. Jason sang in it too. It was pretty cool seeing so many of his old students there. I can't imagine how that would feel.

erin said...

oh so fun! pretty sure he hated chad haha maybe thats why he didnt go?

Cheryl D. said...

Just popping by via SITS!

JennyMac said...

You had me laughing at that hair..oh, I had those bangs. They were GIANT. How did our necks labor under the toil? LOL.

The Atomic Mom said...

Not that Mr Perry was not good in his own right over at The View (GO TOROS!!), but I always wished I'd had the chance to sing with Mr Harris. I knew he was good. As for the hair, love Crystal Huber, she was in MCC Choir with me. And you dah-link, have the best bangs in the whole 1980s. :) As for WW being ghetto, there is an element of ghetto at every school. WW is no worse than any of the others. I remember when I was little reading thru my parents old WW yearbooks and being so excited to be a WW Warrior. The year we moved over to the MV side of town, I was crushed...seriously.

Good times though...I still love yer bangs. :)

Denise said...

Stopping by from SITS to say Hi!

I was in choir,too. LOVED it. I am a new follower of your wonderful blog:)

Stop by and enter a giveaway for some wonderful Eco-Friendly Peter Rabbit Products (include book, rattle, lotion, and wash)http://extremepersonalmeasures.blogspot.com/2010/05/eco-friendly-peter-rabbit-organic.html
There is also a discount code for Molly’s Money Saving Digest (packed full of useful information and recipes!)

Jenny said...

Kind of makes me think of GLEE and Mr. Schuster. Ha ha!

Stopping in from SITS!


Ms. Understood said...

What a great way to honor him. Kudos to all of you.

Jamie said...

Ok, I totally laughed out loud when I read your teacher replayed the video 6 times. *lol* Good for you for getting back up there to finish. And the reunion sounds like it was a blast. :)

Thank you for stopping by my blog during my SITS day, it's been a fabulous day! :)

LambAround said...

I'm never going to accept that big hair is out. Nope, not gonna happen :p



DianD said...

Darn! I'm so sorry we missed it! I'm sure it was wonderful. He was amazing. But, then, he learned from the best, Elizabeth White who was our 9th grade chorus teacher! (He was her student teacher and took over when she retired)... Can we just say we were so glad you guys got to sing under him. He produced some fabulous musicians -- you guys among them. Very nice tribute! BTW, I never knew you fell and the school was abuzz over it! Embarassing, impressive and memorable to be sure. :)

Greg and Tammy said...

First, CONGRATS on the tri!!! I'm so impressed. I wonder if I can have a baby in January and be ready for a tri in May? hmm.... food for thought.

And Greg had so much fun singing in this concert. What a cool tribute to an obviously amazing director.

Dana said...

Now WHY OH WHY can't Gilbert have a Harry Garrett or a Jeff Harris?!? Honestly, this is what choir should be for kids. A lifelong memory and a director that leaves a legacy of love for music AND people. I'm thankful for those wonderful men and the traditions that have existed in the Mesa schools and their choirs. I weep for what my children (and all the families of Gilbert) have truly MISSED out on. *sigh* (Sorry mom that you guys had to miss the concert!! Jamyn appreciates it though!)

Laurel said...

So I was loving this post and your hair. And feeling the love as an honor choir alum. Until I realized I am so out of the loop. I swear the minute I crossed to the wrong side of the Valley you people cut me off. I am glad you had so much fun. He really was/is so talented and I am so glad he could enjoy a night like that.