Musical director, drama teacher Stan Swartz announces retirement


Lucie Rutherford

Musical director and drama teacher Stan Swartz exemplifies proper stage combat to his drama class with freshman Kai Johnson.

Stunned silence filled the auditorium. The man who has directed HHS musicals for the past 31 years, who has won state championships, had announced his retirement. Junior Marissa Plummer, a stage manager for this year’s musical “Cinderella”, was amongst the audience.

“I didn’t actually believe it at first,” Plummer said. “There were lots of tears; it was really shocking… None of us expected it, so we all took it really hard.”

The man of the hour, musical director Stan Swartz, had to give the tough goodbye.

“We gathered everybody we could into the auditorium right before the end of school and let them know, and there was just a stunned silence for a while. Then, Ms. Hough jumped in and said, ‘This is where you can say, ‘Congratulations Mr. Swartz,’ so that kind of broke the ice and everyone started talking and some kids cried; it was a very varied reaction,” Swartz said.

For Plummer, saying goodbye to Swartz is especially hard, given he is the reason behind her musical involvement.

“He’s not one of those directors that has their favorites and goes for it every time. He takes chances on people, and I’m one of those people that he took a chance on knowing nothing about my history and never having worked with me,” Plummer said. “He’s very compassionate and passionate about what he does and it comes through in his work. It might seem a little crazy at times, but that’s Swartz, it always ends up being good.”

Over his 31 years, Swartz has brought many achievements to HHS’s drama program, though watching his students grow and working amongst his colleagues played a huge part in his love for the job.

“Obviously the successes are the favorite memory, the kids successes, the community involvement, the state championships, the thrill of seeing the kids rise to the occasions and really pull off a spectacular production, seeing their work recognized either through acting awards or through the audience’s response,” Swartz said. “[Also], the privilege of working with good, creative people. The staff here… [are] good people that are dedicated to excellence and that’s what I like, that’s what I want.”

Though he is retiring, Swartz still plans on peeking in every once in a while, continuing his support for the program.

“I would like to continue being involved here for a lot of reasons. One reason is I don’t want the kids and the school to lose my 31 years of contacts and relationships,” Swartz said.  “But, I respect the fact that whoever comes in is going to have to have their way of doing things, and I don’t have a problem with that at all.”

With 31 years of experience preceding the incoming musical director, one could say the job will be hard shoes to fill. According to Plummer, all she hopes for is that the new teacher gets the same adoration.

“Whoever comes into his place, I hope that they get the utmost respect and they feel the love that we have for Swartz. [I hope they are given] even more love to welcome them into this new environment,” Plummer said. “I hope that… the Fine Arts strand stays as wonderful as it is, if not gets better because of the compassion and desire that we all have and that we hope to share with whoever comes in to help us.”

All in all, Swartz’s legacy will continue with the Fine Arts program for as long as these students can remember.

“We’re not replacing Swartz because you can never do that,” Plummer said.