Woodstock High School Choral Director Paul Rausch will retire with the class of 2017. Several alumni are planning a retirement gala to celebrate the 32-year career of the beloved music educator who has inspired countless students to strive for excellence in music and in life.

“Paul has had an incredible impact on our community and the degree to which we value the arts,” said former student and District 200 music teacher Carrie Filetti. “We want to celebrate his legacy and recognize the significance and achievements of his career.”

Everyone is invited to the event which will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 4, with a gathering, followed by an alumni concert at 3 p.m. and a 5 p.m. reception at WHS, 501 South St. Ticket cost is $15 for adults, children 11 and younger are free. Advance registration is necessary at christysturm.com/Rauschgala.

Former students who wish to be part of an alumni choir must register by Sunday, April 23.

All proceeds from the registration fees and donations will fund a scholarship named for Rausch.

“I’m a music teacher,” said Filetti. “A lot of that has to do with Paul recognizing that and steering me in that direction.”

In addition to years of top honors for his choirs and individual vocalists in regional and state-level contests, Rausch was recognized as one of the top 10 finalists for 2016 Illinois Teacher of the Year and named to Choral Directors magazine’s “Top 12 Choral Directors Now” listing in 2014. He received the Yale University Distinguished Music Educator Award in April 2013, selected from 300 nominees representing 45 states. 

Filetti was a student from the class of 1995. She said initial planning for the event began about two years ago.

“I talked to Paul about it a couple of years ago when he first applied for retirement,” said Filetti. “I mentioned I would like to put it together for him.”

She was familiar with similar events that were done for other retiring music educators. “It was a nice way to celebrate for them and nice for alumni, too,” said Filetti.

She said about a year ago another former student, Christy Sturm, put together a photo album recalling Rausch’s career. She shared the pictures on a Facebook page that received a lot of interest.

The gala committee will create era choirs based on graduation years. Once these groups have been set, a director will contact each choir with information regarding song selections and how to access scores, rehearsal tracks and the time/place of the only live rehearsal, Saturday, June 3.

Rausch will conduct at least one of the pieces with alumni directing other pieces. All alumni – including 2017 graduates – are eligible to participate in the alumni choir.

The committee has been reaching out to find former students through word of mouth and Facebook.

“There will be a couple of surprises,” said Filetti. “We’re really excited about the event.”

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