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Staff spotlight: Mrs. Pastelak retires on a high note

Ms. Pastelak graduated college in April of 1980.

Ms. Pastelak graduated college in April of 1980.

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“I decided that after 38 years of teaching, I’ve had enough.” Mrs. Marianne Pastelak jokingly stated at the May 15 spring concert. Yes, it is true. After teaching since the school opened in 2007, Mrs. Pastelak, the high school chorus teacher, will be retiring from teaching music at Patterson Mill.

While she may be done teaching the high school, Mrs. Pastelak will still be teaching her vocal jazz group at HCC. However, she isn’t leaving just because she has been teaching for decades, she is also leaving because she has seen some student activity in chorus begin to decline. Every student is required to do a practice log every week for one quarter, but many have refused to take the time to look at their music. Because of her retirement, Pastelak won’t have to worry about this issue, but even after leaving, she explains that she won’t have a lot of free time. “One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is to write more music,” she explains, “and when it comes to planning for the school and all the choral groups, I don’t have the chance to be creative.” Mrs. Pastelak also sees herself playing more piano as well. Her hopes for the new teacher is that they will bring a little more excitement to chorus. “Yeah, I am old, so it would be nice for someone to bring a fresh perspective of things while still keeping the high level of expectations for musical quality.” She started to tear up a bit because of her regrets for leaving, saying that she will miss putting together choral pieces from day one, where students dislike the challenging music in front of them, then seeing the day when they see the potential that the work has once they have overcome the challenges.

Some students from her early years of teaching, who are in their 50s now, still keep in touch with her, which speaks volumes about the impact she has had on her students over the years. She hopes that the students she had will still do something with music, whether it’s becoming a professional musician or just having fun. She gave some shout-outs to the staff, saying that Mr. Burke and the music department have had her back for years and she enjoys the support given by Dr. Abel being a musician himself. “Everyone has really been there when I needed the help.” She hopes that leaving won’t impact the music department too much, and says that she hopes the popularity of chorus builds up, as well as for the choral students to continue excelling. She wishes for the new teacher to continue the vocal jazz group because Patterson Mill is the only school in the county with a vocal jazz group.

The choirs gave Mrs. Pastelak everything this year. The men’s chorus group “Segue” had an unusually high amount of students join, and the A Capella group “Da Capo” took her to the state assessments after receiving three 1s and a 2 at the county assessment. It had been the first time in 6 years that the high school went to states. If that isn’t enough, the Patterson Mill chorus got first place in a music competition held in Boston this year. If it weren’t for Pastelak’s love of jazz, the group may not have won the competition. As she said in the after school practice days, “We are the only jazz group in the competition. We are going to win. Just don’t make us get a 3.” And they didn’t. The chorus managed to get a superior rating. For those who have had Mrs. Pastelak before, stop by and give her your thanks for showing you music in a new light, whether it is jazz or simply A Capella.

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Staff spotlight: Mrs. Pastelak retires on a high note