I’m with the band @khsmc

Keswick High School Music! It is beyond me how there can be any need to fight for music education in the public school system when its value in myriad ways - to the students, to the school and to the larger community - is so evident. Case in point: the Keswick High School Music Department. Teacher Scott Cameron heads up the program with obvious dedication to his students and to the sense of the role music plays at school and throughout life. He had me out to KHS in March to give my presentation to a substantial group of students beyond those strictly in the music program but with a proviso that he wanted me to come back in May for another presentation where the student musicians of KHS would really be shining for the whole community. Last night was that occasion.

In many ways, last night's concert was typical of an end-of-the-school-year concert that happens all over the place - except that it was held in the local Stephen Leacock Theatre in Georgina Ontario and there was an air of "extravaganza" surrounding everything: there were solo performances, duets, jazz band configurations, a reggae arrangement, a mass band, a choir contingent from an area feeder school, a prize draw, a Hockey Night In Canada finale and a packed house of friends and relatives in every seat not already occupied by the students and their teachers.

It was a full program and Scott had asked if I could come up with a much shorter version of the presentation to fit the evening so I managed to get something down around 20 minutes to slot in just before intermission. As he'd done during the "performance pocket" at KHS back in March, student Kyle Smith did the honours bringing Voyageur to life - though this time he was joined for one song by fellow student Jack Adams throwing his heart (and lungs!) into a rendition of Cohen's "Hallelujah". During the intermission, I hung out in the lobby signing books and chatting with folks while people took pictures with the guitar. It all seemed like such a "night on the town" for so many audience members that it was easy to forget that this was indeed a high school year-end concert. And that's perhaps one of the unsung values of music education in schools - the creation of these opportunities for communities to come together and see the development of home grown talent in a social setting, to recognize that the music presented and the applause offered in return help to build a whole other self-image - both individually and collectively - that adds a kind of value for everyone participating that is perhaps hard to quantify but so easy to see and hear in action on nights like these.

Thanks to Scott Cameron and all the participating music students and teachers - the work you do is invaluable. Thanks also to the crew in the booth, the Ontario150 Fund, the Town of Georgina and the staff at the Leacock and to my volunteer, Ashley, who kept things smooth and safe with Voyageur while I was otherwise occupied. To those graduating students, I hope music will continue to be a part of your lives beyond KHS; and to those returning next year, I hope you realize how lucky you are to have such a robust program and dedicated leaders!

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