Former High School Alumni Return For An Emotional Farewell Performance With Retiring Choir Teacher

May 25, 2023 by apost team

After three decades of teaching piano and chorus at Cartersville High School (CHS) in Atlanta, beloved choirmaster Jim Stanley was bidding farewell to his illustrious career. To commemorate his retirement, Stanley invited his former students to join him for a heartfelt performance at their alma mater.

Despite having only one day of rehearsal, the alumni choir delivered a moving rendition under the expert direction of Stanley. The emotional reunion was captured on video, showcasing the lasting impact the teacher had on his students. 

Maggie Smith Kühn, a CHS alumna, shared the heartwarming moment of the rehearsal/reunion on her social media on May 16, 2023, expressing gratitude for Stanley's transformative influence. The video, which was captured by her mother, Cindy Harter Sims, has since gathered more than two million views. 

The choir also featured soloist Lisa Lowe Douglas, who led the group in mesmerizing the audience with their performance of "City Called Heaven." Later, they performed the same piece in the farewell concert led by Stanley himself.

Speaking with Good Morning America, Stanley explained that he sent out an invite to his former students one year before the performance date. Initially, he thought only 20 would respond. However, the list of former students who became interested grew and grew until about a hundred signed up and committed. They also formed a Facebook group to touch base and catch up. Many of the former students lived all over the states and even as far as Canada.

The teacher picked out some of his favorite songs that his students performed within three decades. He was impressed at how prepared they were during the rehearsal. It was clear to the teacher that his students really wanted to do this as much as he wanted the final concert to succeed.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-)

"People stopped everything in their lives so they could have a chance to say thank you to Jim Stanley," one of the students said. Another alumn revealed that chorus class gave her the happiest memories in high school, and none of them were surprised by the response to the invitation because Stewart was well-loved by his former students. 

“I blocked it in my calendar and didn't work, specifically so I could go to my small hometown and sing for one last time with all the people I grew up knowing,” Kühn said in the caption of her viral video on TikTok.

“Celebrating Mr. Stanley, someone who helped make me what I am, was such a privilege,” Kühn also wrote on her Instagram.

Stanley told ABC News that he "choked up a little bit" upon seeing his students walk up to the rehearsals again. Now 52 years old, he reminisced about his own musical journey and credited his own chorus director as his greatest musical mentor. He recalled that he initially resisted joining the chorus, but after making it into the All-State chorus, Stanley's passion for music education was ignited, leading him to aspire to become a music teacher.

"My chorus teacher at the time actually saw something in me," Stanley said. "She encouraged me to continue, and that kind of started me on the path to a lifelong love of chorus." 

Meanwhile, Kühn also uploaded a video of the final performance, which has nearly 200,000 views. Incidentally, Kühn's siblings also had Stanley as their music teacher. Her mom believes that he saved troubled teens by giving them the gift of music.

Inspired by his dedication, the former students have established the Etowah Scholarship Foundation to help music educators and pay tribute to Stanley.

Congratulations, Jim Stanley, on your well-deserved retirement! His unwavering dedication and profound influence on his students need to be emulated, don’t you think so? Pass this story along to someone who may need some good vibes!

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