In approximately one hour the final jazz band concert at OPRF will begin. This also marks Scotty Jones' last concert at the high school.
Scotty has only been here 6 years, but his impact on the program, the community and mostly, the kids, has been enormous. He brought back the marching band, helping to create more school spirit at many school events beyond the football games, generating a much-needed community for kids within the music department, and providing traveling opportunities for the band, flags and drill team. He's kept the jazz band alive by bringing them out into the community on numerous occasions, starting an annual big band dance at the Oak Park Arms and taking them to festivals. Clinicians such as Rob Parton and Tim Coffman (both excellent local musicians) have been brought in to share their wisdom, expertise and experiences. And his sit-down bands continue to thrive with challenging and musical repertoire.
But more than that, Scotty has developed relationships with his students that will reach way beyond the walls of OPRF and beyond the years he's been there. It's clear how much they love him. It's clear how much the parents appreciate him too. Never have I seen such parental involvement and support of a program. Scotty has laid the groundwork for what I hope will be years of a wonderful relationship among the teachers, students and parents alike.
What makes this letter particularly poignant for me is that just 6 years ago I wrote another letter to the paper rather bemoaning Scotty's arrival. I must admit, he hadn't even arrived and I wasn't giving him a chance. I'll be the first to admit this and the first to say how ashamed I am of that now?and how wrong I was.
At the time, I was very sad at losing my friend and colleague Ron Holleman. Ron gave over 30 years of musical service and passion to OPRF. He had a wealth of knowledge like no other. Even though he wasn't a string player, he took over the orchestras at one point and learned everything he needed to know to conduct them. And his passion for jazz was unequaled. Even in retirement he continues to play and conduct in the Ft. Collins/Denver area.
Ron was a wonderful educator in a very different way than Scotty is. It's not my intent or desire to compare the two. Like all of us, they have their strengths and weaknesses. Ron, along with Steve Denny, was the only musical teacher I'd worked with at OPRF. I knew of his struggles with the administrations of his time and how he lacked for support (one of the main reasons the marching band ceased to exist for over 14 years). I knew how he, Steve and numerous parents fought tooth and nail to even keep a fine arts department going at OPRF. I have the utmost respect and gratitude for everything he brought to this community. And in my naiveté, while trying to uplift and uphold Ron in his leaving, I wasn't very receptive to Scotty's arrival, or the way the old administration handled finding him.
Now I know better. Dr. Bridge has been unfailingly supportive of all the arts, and for this I thank her. And Scotty?there are no words to adequately thank you for how you allowed me to continue doing what I love to do, and how you have impacted this beloved instrumental department. I will miss you very, very much. But I know you have made the right choice for you and your family. I have no doubt that Tony (the new director) will do you proud. And I'll be there to help in whatever way I can. Safe travels, and keep that enthusiasm of yours alive.
Linda Van Dyke
Private clarinet/saxophone instructor