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Newark High School holds concert salute to area veterans

More than 500 attended a highly-inspirational evening concert salute to area veterans at Newark High School November 7th.

And that really pleased its organizers, NHS instrumental music teacher Robert Humphrey and NHS vocal music teacher Kate Flock.

“I’m very excited to start what we hope will become an enduring tradition at Newark High School. It was a heartwarming night which allowed the kids the chance to give back to their community,” Humphey said later.

I am so grateful to the Veteran’s who have fought for our country,” Flock said.  “This was such a nice way for our musicians to say ‘thank you.’ I am hopeful that a new tradition has begun with the Newark Music Department!”

In the concert program, Humphrey and Flock thanked veterans with these heartfelt words:

“The entire music department is pleased and honored to be able to present this concert to our area veterans. Everything we have is due, in large part, to the sacrifices made by you, America’s truest heroes.

“We ask that you accept the event as a gesture of thanks to you and yours for all you have done, sacrificed, witnessed and empowered for the sake of freedom.

“Children need the opportunity to honor those who truly deserve recognition. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for giving them the chance to do so.”

Prior to this year, there has been a fall concert in October featuring the instrumental and vocal groups at NHS, but Humphrey and Flock decided to hold it closer to Veteran’s Day in November in honor of area veterans.

The concert featured entirely American patriotic music performed by the NHS Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, directed by Humphrey and the NHS Mixed Choir and Chamber Choir, directed by Flock.

U.S. Army Captain Seth Burgess, a 2002 NHS graduate, led the audience at the concert in the Pledge of Allegiance and read patriotic quotations before each musical selection.

He was introduced at the event by Cindy Briggs, Kelley School instrumental music teacher and K-12 Music Department Leader.

Burgess attended RIT after graduation and in 2004 enlisted in the New York Army National Guard. He was commissioned as a military intelligence officer in 2007 upon completion of RIT’s Army ROTC program.

During his 13 years of military service, Burgess was mobilized twice for “Operation Enduring Freedom” that included, in 2012, an overseas deployment to Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions overseas.

Burgess also served on active duty with the FEMA Region II Homeland Response Force, that responds to incidents in the U.S..

Recently selected for promotion to Major, he currently serves in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with the New York Army National Guard.

As a combat veteran, Burgess said he and his family have learned firsthand about the kinds of sacrifices that so many others have made and they are very thankful for all those others who have served.

Also at the event, Newark Central School District Superintendent Matt Cook read a poem during a Wind Ensemble selection entitled “Each Time You Tell Their Story.”

During the selection nearly at the end of the concert, the various service branches’ songs were played during “Armed Forces: The Price of America!” and veterans were asked to stand and be recognized when their song was played.

Additionally “Downbeat,” the new NHS rock band, that’s also directed by Humphrey, performed “God Bless The U.S.A.”

An unexpected highlight of the evening came at the end of the concert when Newark VFW  Post 2883 Commander Harry Gajan thanked and presented the NHS Music Department with a Certificate of Appreciation for its efforts to honor veterans.

“I was pleased with our students’ musical growth and professional presentation and absolutely humbled to have the music department be publicly recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States,” Humphrey said later.

After the concert, veterans and their guests were feted at a reception in the NHS band room.