Saturday, April 9, 2016

Commitment and Class

April 10, 2016

A true friend will step in when you need help. A professional will do it without skipping a beat. Combine those two, and you have real class. Mr. Swanson is a first-class musician whose abilities could have taken him anywhere, but whose love for kids made him choose to be a teacher at a small school. Anyone who has ever talked with him for five minutes knows his commitment to the kids he teaches runs deep; anyone who ever might have questioned that needed only to witness his performance tonight as he directed the pit band for Panama's "The Wizard of Oz."

This is a musical he's been wanting to do for years, and finally was given the opportunity. The kids were prepared, and did an outstanding job as he conducted the pit band. But all was not well. He has been battling the onset of the flu, and barely made it through last night's performance, but was not about to let the kids down. So there he was tonight, directing the band  while fighting off bouts of sweating and chills. By intermission he was spent, but still required a good deal of persuading to quit. That's dedication!

And that's where true friendship and professionalism stepped in. One of the musicians in the band was retired Cassadaga Valley band teacher John Cross, playing clarinet, flute, and saxophone. As Mr. Swanson was helped out of the auditorium (yes, he was that sick), John gathered his instruments, stepped to the podium, and directed and played without missing a beat. In a day in which everyone seems to be in competition with everyone else, tonight's performance was a demonstration of friendship, professionalism, and class. It was a proud night for the Panama players, and for those who like John, stand ready to come to the assistance of a friend in need so that the kids wouldn't be disappointed. I am grateful to have been witness to greatness tonight, both on and off the stage. Thank you Steve, for your dedication to the kids. Thank you John, for your skill and readiness to step in when needed. And thank you God, for these two men whose love for you is an example to us all.

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