By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO May 27, 2003 A persons life is shaped by his or her education. And teachers are perhaps the biggest influence.
For 33 years, Stephen Rovitz has been just such an influence. The music director at Monticello High School has helped to shape the lives of many of the students that have passed through his classroom.
In fact, many of his former students came back to honor him at the annual Spring Concert held on Thursday, May 15 at the high school. As a surprise, one of his colleagues, Nancy Wegrzyn, composed an opus in his honor. Many of his former students returned to play in the concert in a tribute to Rovitz.
It was incredible on a number of levels, Rovitz remarked. At least 250 people kept it a secret from me. I did not have an inkling it was going to happen. It was very touching. I was pleased. I saw many people I had not seen in a long time.
Rovitz spent his first 12 years in education as a music teacher. The next 21, he was the music director.
Now Rovitz, who credits all his success to his wife Debra, has decided to move on and pursue other interests.
The honoring of Rovitz continued at the Weekend of Chamber Music Spring Concert held at Monticello High School on Saturday. Well over 60 people came out for the concert and to honor Rovitz.
The program consisted of four professional musicians and 13 Monticello music students. They performed pieces from Mozart, Marcello, Damase, and other artists.
The professional musicians were Marija Stroke (piano), Judith Pearce (flute), Matt Sullivan (oboe), and Kurt Muroki (double bass). The students were Jenna Diaco (flute), Casey Berson (oboe), Cono Cirone (clarinet), Ricky DeGraw (baritone saxophone), David Dunlap (trumpet), Heidi Kleister (violin), Taryn Lounsbury (violin), Diana Macedonio (violin), Tyler Laufersweiler (piano), Mathew Rodriguez (trumpet), Erica Sanford (viola), John Garry (violoncello), and Andrew Trombley (piano and double bass).
Still, much of the focus was on Rovitz.
Thursdays concert was an extraordinary event, Pearce remarked. It showed what effect Steve has had. We are no less appreciative.
Sullivan County District 1 Legislator Chris Cunningham and New York State Assemblyman Jake Gunther were both on hand to honor Rovitz.
I was a student of yours once, Cunningham told Rovitz as he gave him a Legislative proclamation. You made school more enjoyable.
You have been so devoted, Gunther stated. My son was your student. He has now moved on as a music major in college. You have motivated and inspired my son beyond words.