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100 Oxford grads perform to honor Lew Wilson

Surrounded by his former students, Lew Wilson is honored for all his years of teaching and mentoring. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
October 06, 2010 - A total of 100 past choir and band members of Lewis Wilson gathered together on Sunday, Oct. 3 at Oxford High School to honor and celebrate the man they called, teacher, friend and mentor.

"It was awesome," Wilson said. "It was probably the highest honor that any teacher could ever receive, especially when you get kids back from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s."

"I feel super blessed and I loved this community for 36 years and when I retired up to Ludington, I didn't like it because I left the school family, the neighborhood and the church family...I am so happy that they organized this for me," he added.

It didn't take Wilson long to get back into the swing of directing as he oversaw a nine song concert that included some of his favorite songs and hymns.

When finished, Wilson thought that the group "sounded great for as little rehearsal they had (had)."

He said that he felt overwhelmed by all of the support that had gathered in his honor for the weekend event.

"When I walked into a room with 100 kids and faces I haven't seen in a long time and hadn't recognized in a while, but this day is great," he said. "There are no words and I didn't expect this."

A touching moment came at the end when it was announced that an endowment scholarship at Oxford High School was being set up in his honor.

"I didn't know that was coming," he said.

Wilson was an integral part of the band and choir program for nearly 40 years at Oxford High School. He left the Brandon School District in 1969, where he taught all grade levels of music, to come to Oxford to only teach at the high school level.

He taught band and choir for grades seven, eight and nine in 1969 before doing drama in 1970.

He did drama until 1982 before doing two more years in 1986-1987. He also directed the musical Scrooge from 1982-1994, as well as seven other musicals.

When he finished directing, he was a guidance counselor at the high school from 1995-2005.

Numerous trips down memory lane were sprinkled throughout the concert, which was emceed by Gary Rolls.

Wilson also provided his own trip down memory lane when he pulled out gifts and mementos from his years of service at OHS.

During the festivities, special recognition was given to the junior high school members of Varsity Band, Varsity Choir and Girls Glee Club who were part of the groups that received superior ratings at State festival on May 4, 1974.

Special recognition was also given to OHS members of Choralaires and Oxfordaires who were part of the groups that received superior ratings at the state festival on May 3, 1991.

"Oxford is the place to be," Wilson said. "When I would take these kids to festival, they would stand in the hallway waiting to go into performance or waiting to go into sight reading and anyone observing said your kids are the best behaved and most polite and I was just wrapped up in being in the best spot on earth as far as I was concerned."

Also receiving recognition were the drama and musical leads from Wilson 40 productions and the leads from his 13 years of Scrooge.

The concert had been in the works since April of this year and Wilson found out about it at the end of August. "It allowed me to be stressed out in September," he said to a room full of laughter.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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