Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Great Discovery

Social networks such as FACEBOOK are double edged swords. In some ways, they can be negative but in other ways, they can be quite positive. I have enjoyed finding and being found by people from my past. Many of my relatives and friends from yesterday and long, long ago have been discovered on FB. I found one person just last night.

I started high school in the fall of 1976. New to our school that year was an outstanding vocal music teacher. This was one of those teachers whom reached into you and pulled out every square inch of talent you had buried deep within you. He was just an amazing person. His first year here was just the beginning for how many students would want to be a part of his program in Wichita County. People knew that vocal music was not just a lazy boy (or girl's) class anymore. If you were signed up for vocal music, you were going to work. If you slouched, you heard about it. For the 4 years that I spent in his classroom, each class became larger than the year before it. We had well over 100 people in this classroom! I realize that some of you are probably snickering about the size of this class. For those of you, your towns and schools are probably considerably larger than Leoti's. In Leoti, that meant that well over half of our high school's population was enrolled in vocal music. Outstanding.

We produced great programs that our audiences craved. We also put on the most amazing musicals that were played to "sell-out" crowds. Our auditorium is quite large but more chairs had to be brought in to seat everyone who wanted to watch and listen. We always performed on a Friday and Saturday in November. Many times, people who came and watched on Friday, would return on Saturday just because the performance was so great.

Our teacher, whose name I am not mentioning here without his consent, had no problem convincing the Board of Education that we needed to take our show on the road for the last 3 years I was in high school. It took 2 big buses to take us to schools in Oklahoma and Kansas. We showed what we had to the students there and always recieved rave reviews from them. One year, we even performed for the Larned Mental Health Hospital. I think that we probably helped the patients there considerably.

Our teacher put his all into everything that he did. There were times, we feared he would have a stroke or heart attack. By the end of some of our performances and practices, his clothes would just be soaked from his perspiration. Because of his hard work that he put into all of this, many of our students went on to college with great scholarships in their hands.

Unfortunately, no matter how much he worked and tried to get great music out of us, it just wasn't a possibility. Some of us, plainly and simply, just had no musical talent. Hmmm...one of those few people was ME. Case in point, I remember one day in particular. We were practicing on the auditorium stage. Whenever we practiced there, we were close to putting on a public program of some sort. Mr. S. would be very keyed-up at that point because he wanted to deliver the greatest music performance--ever. He had gotten upset a few times with the Alto section for being offkey. I was an alto and decided to get everyone straightened out. LOL! To the girls around me, I suggested that they listen to me. I would sing even louder than normal so that they could get the idea of how we all needed to be singing. (I thought that I was an extremely talented musician--back then.) Ha! Ha! So the girls around me began just moving their lips for one song so that they could hear me and do better from that point on. LOL!!!!!!!!! Mr. S. waved his baton for all to quit singing. When everyone was quiet, he demanded that Elder (me) needed to just move my lips and let everyone else sing because I was horribly out of key. Mercy me! And here I had thought that I was gifted....... Ha! Ha! Looking back, that is absolutely one of my most memorable moments in high school.

Mr. S. wound up being one of my absolute favorite teachers during my entire 13 years of school. He was just one of those teachers who gave it his all and the students loved him for it. Mr. S. is now teaching in Eastern Kansas and I am sure that he is still putting on amazing performances back there.



  1. Thanks for that trip down memory lane. That music teacher you are speaking of was also my favorite teacher of all time. He inspired me to love music and drama like no one else has. I have often wondered where he was and if he was still bringing that love of music his students

  2. I graduated from high school 31 years ago. To this day, I often think of Mr. Stambaugh and the influence that he had on me. Every time that I listen or watch professionals, students, etc, I always remember something that he taught us that could make positive changes to their performances. This man was definitely gifted.

    Last night, I heard from a man who had always wondered where Mr. Stambaugh was now. Come to find out, he had taught school with him before the Stambaughs moved to Leoti. He has now tried to "friend" him on FACEBOOK.

    Thank you for your comment!



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