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Angels In Our Midst

Angels In Our Midst

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Updated: Monday, March 17 2014, 07:48 PM CDT

He was a dad who played in a rock band.  When his two children took up the violin, he decided he'd learn to play too. And the rest, as they say, is history; three decades worth.

Last week, Cecil Clark took the stage for his final performance as conductor of the Escambia County Youth Orchestra.  He is retiring after 34 years with fond memories of very humble beginnings.

"A, g sharp comes in.  Do it one more time at 46."

"WhenI took the program over, there were 30 kids right here at Workman Middle School. I'd see them in the hallway and I'd say, I need you in the string class."

"Cello and bass, 23.  One, two, three."

"By Christmas, we had 103 or 104 students enrolled for our first concert. We actually had to go pick them up, go to Saturday rehearsals. We had Saturday rehearsals to put everybody together because I was at three or four schools at that time."

For more than three decades he has kept the music playing.  That is no small task; holding the interest of students who have so many other things vying for their attention.

"He'll truly knows the kids and interact with the kids,"  said Lindsay knapp, an 8th grade strings student;

"He asks us what pieces we want to play.  So, I mean, we get to play fun music and he lets us play it and it's a lot of fun because we know it; we can relate to it.  It's like modern music,"  said Jun Ho, 8th grade strings student.

"I have, during the course of 34 years, taught 5th through 12th." 

"You almost have to keep them entertained.  I mean, I don't know any other way to put it."

 On this night, his former students had their own memories of those years of interaction, relating and entertaining.

"I saw kids I haven't seen since 1980."

A lot of them are doctors.  A lot of them are lawyers.

"Very emotional.  I mean, that was 30-something years ago.  And to see those kids; they're grown now."

"And they still remember Mr. Clark."

And there's still another generation who will long remember Mr. Clark.

Angels in Our Midst is brought to you by the children's hospital at Sacred Heart.ANGELS IN OUR MIDST: (Mr. Clark)

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Washington Times