By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO February 10, 2006 There are few compliments greater.
He could fine tune the engine of his Porsche while he was making a picture frame and conducting his band . . . in the rain, Bob Rosengard said of Arnold Packer Hughs.
He wasnt exaggerating.
Well, maybe a little.
But the vice president of the Monticello Central School Board of Education, a former educator in the district himself, doesnt take education lightly.
He was a colleague of Hughs during his days as director of music in the district.
And Rosengard helped produce the many musicals performed by Monticello students in the 1970s students who learned to flex their melodic muscles thanks to Hughs development of a world-class music program.
Next month the thousands of students touched by Hughs are being called to Monticello to help dedicate the high school and middle school auditorium to his memory.
Although Hughs died in 2003, his family will be on hand as the district names the performance center the Arnold Packer Hughs Auditorium.
The district owes that to Hughs, Rosengard said, because of the impact he made on music education for every Monticello student.
He was an incredible music director, he said. He understood music, and he knew how to teach it.
He single-handedly turned a non-music department into one of the premiere music departments in the U.S.
Professional evaluators have visited Monticellos schools and delivered glowing reports on the quality of music education the district provides, Rosengard said, and thats due to something Hughs started when he began teaching in 1963.
Hughs retired in 1982, turning over the helm to recently retired music director Steve Rovitz.
Hughs, said Rosengard, could fix instruments as well as play them (he was an accomplished trumpet player), he could use his silk screening skills to make up advertising for the school productions, and he could discern what was missing from a band, adding what he thought was needed to make everything sound pitch perfect.
But his real skill was in teaching.
The districts decision to honor Hughs is a nod to an individual who inspired so many students, teachers and members of the community to view music as an essential program for all students, Rosengard explained.
In that vein, they are establishing a scholarship in Hughs name as well, which will be awarded annually to a Monticello student.
The memorial concert and naming ceremony will feature excerpts from The Music Man, the first and last musical Hughs directed in his tenure at Monticello.
This year its the spring musical once again at the high school, slated for performances the last weekend in March.
Also performing in the tribute concert will be the Monticello High School womens choir, the concert band and the wind symphony chorus, as well as the Duggan Elementary School Chorus and the Monticello Middle School Sixth Grade Chorus.
Set for March 18, the event will kick off at 2:13 p.m. because Arnold never began on an expected moment, Rosengard recalled with a laugh. He always began at 1:06 or 1:12.
On hand for the festivities will be Hughs wife, Eleanor, and their two surviving children, Renee Somers and Gwynne Blum.
Somers has been working with Rosengard and the board of educations student liaison, Joe DAbbraccio, to plan the dedication concert.
For information on the concert or the scholarship, contact Rosengard at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute to the scholarship fund, checks, made payable to Monticello Central School District, can be mailed to Robert Rosengard, P.O. Box 201, Smallwood, NY 12778.