Georgian Bay Secondary School was buzzing with excitement during the weekend of June 5 -7, as over 120 former students filled the school once again, for the Music Alumni weekend.
This event, never held before, was designed to bring back any students who participated in the school's Music Program, who have graduated under the tutelage of teacher Patrick Delaney.
The weekend beganon Friday, with the last of five coffee houses that the program ran this school year. Performers included current students, as well as several of the alumni who graced the cafeteria stage once again, to show off their musical talent.
The excitement continuedon Saturday, when the former students were able to pick up the instruments they played in high school and play once again. Some students have maintained their skills from their high school orchestra days, while for others this was the first time playing in years.
After getting tuned, warming up and practicing in their instrument groups (with help from current high school musicians), the group moved to the gym and took up Orchestra formation. Mr. Delaney selected 'Into the Storm' as the piece that the Alumni would perform at the following day’s concert, a favourite through the years.
For the next couple hours, the group, which included graduates from 2000 to 2014 all played together, and despite some rust, managed to produce a nice sound.
The climax of the weekend was the joining of the Alumni with the present student’s performances on Sunday afternoon, for the spring concert. The annual event was quite different this year, with the inclusion of the Alumni Orchestra- complete with a slide show and special presentation, and the inclusion of Meaford Community School’s Orchestra at the event.
For the returning graduates it was certainly a thrilling, and emotional experience, “I was so nervous to walk down those halls again that I got hives for the first time in my life,” 2004 Graduate Amy Ellard-Gray shared of her weekend, reflecting her experience in high school. “However, the overwhelmingly good feelings that came out of this past weekend reminded me of all the amazing parts of my high school experience, thanks completely toMr. Delaneyand the amazing people in the GBSS music program. After the music alumni weekend I feel motivated to vouch for this school's awesomeness all over town!”
These testimonies certainly reflect the goal of what the weekend was designed to accomplish. While the reunion aspect of the weekend was important, the idea began as a way to infuse more positive energy into the school, and display the amazing things, and people, that the school has produced.
Music teacher and event organizer Patrick Delaney shared in the sentiment of the students.
“In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that this weekend would be so sensational,” he admitted. “Somehow I thought that I would be imposing on their new lives or that perhaps high school wasn't all that important to them. But after reading the posts, and seeing the looks in your eyes during orchestra, I finally realized how wonderful this world can be.”
The organizers expressed thanks to Bill MacDonald of Bill’s Valu-Mart for providing food for the weekend, as well as all the other community support.
Another part of the weekend, was the ‘smash the cello’ contest, where everyone was encouraged to donate funds, by inserting them into a broken cello, in order to raise the funds required to purchase a new instrument. At the end of the weekend, $2300 was raised thanks to some generous donations.
To celebrate this, Delaney ‘smashed the cello’ on-stage at the Concert, using a sledgehammer, to the amusement of all in attendance.
At the end of the weekend, it was clear that many people have loved participating in this program for many years. Emotions- excitement, nostalgia, and so much more, were palpable throughout the events. While all those in attendance wish that the weekend was not over, the memories will be precious. And, as Delaney hinted, maybe the next reunion will happen in the not-so-distant future.