Mary/ March 1, 2015/ Living, Music, Performing, Theatre

There is something amazingly passionate going on at New Westminster Secondary School.

It was a love fest Thursday as our group of book club moms attended Footloose, the musical put on by the high school students this year. There was such a buzz in the lobby – seeing people you “know” everywhere. Everyone was excited, supportive, appreciative, proud.

My son has already graduated from the school, 3 years ago, but still participates, tutors there, helps to run the band camp. There is such a draw, such enthusiasm in this school.

New Westminster is a small community, a small city tucked into the middle of the big Lower Mainland. Surrounded by the larger, sprawling cities and municipalities of Surrey, Coquitlam and Burnaby, it is an anomaly. Its close boundaries create a tight knit community: one high school, an uptown and a downtown and a dozen or so small neighborhood pockets. You can walk across it. You meet people you know on the street. That makes it rather unique in the lower mainland of BC. To the south is the Quay, its boardwalk and a beautiful park on the river. The northern boundary rises up the slope from that river, in the east, our beloved Queens Park and the west a bustling, busy border with Burnaby.

The school itself is one of the largest in the province of BC. Sheer numbers perhaps make it easier to have a full-fledged music department, but it’s more so the dedication and heartfelt commitment by a small group of amazing music teachers that makes it stellar.

The very first time I attended a concert when my son was in grade 9, I was surprised and impressed by the cheers and applause the students in the audience gave their peers. I had not experienced this in my own high school days, or in any other situations. They were bursting with keen enthusiasm for their fellow students on stage at that time. And they were bursting with love, affection and respect for their inspiring teachers.

On Thursday night, one friend’s daughter was dancing in the chorus, a dear friend of my son had taken on the task of assistant stage manager, and another mom in our book club saw her younger son enchant the audience with his charismatic performance. What a team effort of music teachers, band and vocal students – even a young math teacher who teaches choreography.

So we keep coming back, to the concerts and the productions… savoring our community, celebrating the heart of New West and the arts. It feels so good.