Today is the alumni event to celebrate and honor Mr. Harrison, my high school band director. I want to take a moment to honor him. I’ll have another post today or tomorrow, but in the meantime. To Mr. H.
Dear Mr. Harrison,
It is the ending of an era and the turning of a page (I just love to start off a serious letter with a good cliché don’t you?) as Sequoyah High School and all its band students both past, present, and even those future ones who miss out on you, lose a truly great man. You have been a friend and confidant, a guide and a leader. You were so much more than a teacher. You were and are a truly great man.
I highly doubt you remember me and my first day of band camp, because let’s face it. You’ve had a lot “first days of band camp” and a lot of incoming “fresh meat.” But I remember it with a startling clarity. You see, I joined the marching band under duress, thanks to my mom…you know the crazy lady who is still bugging you despite her kids not being in band for ohhh two plus years now, and you scared the pants out of me. Plus you put seniors in charge of us freshman. They reveled in the chance to prove that particular food chain to us freshman. In fact I tried to quit the first day. And the second one too. But you said something that first day, at the end of the day when we were all standing in the field wondering how on earth we were supposed to remember how to march, let alone where to march and what to play. You said to us “Band Camp stinks. But if you can make it through this, you can make it through anything. The season will be nothing but better from here on out.” And you know what Mr. H. You were right. Band Camp was nothing but better. From the time we won the grand daddy championship and sang “We Are the Champions” on top of the busses at my first major competition, to chilling in your office on that scary brown couch. To losing at Band Major, twice, and directing Sym 2 warm-ups because you were nice enough to let me take two band courses my senior year so I could organize all the music for you.
But you see, your lessons went even further than the field or the band room. You helped me deal with death of several friends and the triumph of making it into a highly coveted college. You helped me find my voice and my leadership skills, even when it wasn’t where I thought I should be. You helped me learn humility and courage so that I could face anything that came into my life. You gave compassion to not only a current student, Zachary, but also a former student and a hurting family during the worst of moments. You always took the time to say hello. You see Mr. Harrison, whether or not you realize it, for me, and probably most of us students, you weren’t just a teacher. You weren’t just Mr. H. You were a chisel in the masterpiece that is our lives. You may have only held the handle of that chisel for four short years, but you helped make us into the men and women we are today.
So as you continue your journey, please don’t ever forget that you achieved a goal most people can only hope to achieve. You changed lives. You are forever and always a truly great man.
Thank you for everything you have been and continue to be in my life.
Stephanie Dunbar Lee
Class of 2002