By Vern Hee – Special to the Pahrump Valley Times
The scene is set and you can almost hear the von Trapp children singing the lyrics “So long, farewell. Auf Weidersehen, goodbye” from the Sound of Music. It would be a fitting end and a good farewell to the much loved music teacher at Pahrump Valley High School, who will leave at the end of the school year.
Music Director David Tomasini, in late April, stunned the staff and student body with his decision to accept a teaching post in a third world country. Tomasini will be headed to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal where he will spend two years teaching music to children.
Tomasini said, “My mom has done medical work in Haiti my entire life and I have been really fascinated about going to a third world country. I have been interested in the Peace Corps in the past, the position just opened up.”
The bulk of the music students will miss Tomasini’s leadership but it is business as usual as the students prepare for the last two concerts of the year.
Tomasini said, “The students have been very mature and amazing. I had to explain to them that this was a dream of mine. They are really excited for me and they are not upset and we are setting up the leadership for next year,” said Tomasini.
Tomasini said there has been little time for him to really think about leaving because he is so busy with his preparations for the benefit concerts. He had four concerts scheduled in May. Two of them were held last week when the concert band and drumline gave their final concerts to benefit charities chosen by the students. Drumline did their performance for elementary music programs while the concert band did one for a German Shepherd rescue.
May 22 the Women’s Choir, a group of over 70 young women, will be dedicating their concert to Veterans and will be singing an assortment of patriotic songs.
The Select Choir will end the week by performing a dinner theater on May 25 and 26 when the students stage their favorite scenes from their favorite Broadway musicals. Tomasini said the students will be in costume for their mini performances. Dinner will be a three course meal served in the cafeteria. No ticket information was available at press time. All proceeds will benefit the PVHS music department.
Tomasini said the students in each group were allowed to pick their charity as part of the leadership principles he stresses throughout the year. It has been a major part of rebuilding the music department from the ground up.
Dani Altiero, a senior and Select Choir member described the leadership.
“Each class had their own leadership. In each music class there were section leaders. The leadership led by example and helped to teach other students. I think some of that leadership will help next year’s new teacher.”
Kelley Raberge, a junior Select Choir member added, “He teaches all of his students to take their own leadership, he stresses teamwork. One person takes over, there are not a lot of opinions on how to do things, and with the student leadership there is just one way. The students follow the student leadership and things get done. If things do not work out that way then they try something else.”
Tomasini said substitute teachers always loved teaching his classes because to be honest, there was not much for them to do. The classes basically led themselves.
Tomasini has resurrected the music department in his short term of two years and has taken it to new heights. He said in regards to his students, “I keep reminding them that the magic has always been in them, it’s never been about me and what I am capable of doing. Really all I have been trying to do is show them that they can take the reins, and they can open this side of themselves up.”
Max Buffi, principal of PVHS, was not upset at losing his prize teacher. He was blunt and to the point and stated, “If David Tomasini would have stayed with us I believe we would have had the best music program in the state. He then continued, “It took me a while to find the right fit. That is the toughest part. Losing Tomasini is like losing a head football coach.”
The problem Buffi sees is the same problem they had when they hired Tomasini. There are not many music teachers who can teach marching band and choral music too. He said the administration and the district will work hard over the break to find a well qualified teacher.
Altiero is of course saddened that her mentor will be leaving but she understands the reasons why. “It is really sad for the program and for the juniors and sophomores that are just starting out with him but it is really exciting for him. It is like a good opportunity. Now somewhere else they will have a really excited awesome teacher and they will have the privilege of having him as a teacher. It will be a struggle for the new teacher at first but I think that the strong program that he has built will continue after he leaves.”
Raberge sadly thanked Tomasini for all his teaching and hard work and added, “Tomasini taught me everything about singing. He taught me different parts and how to read music. He taught me how to enjoy music. He pushed me toward my dreams and inspired me to work hard.”
When asked what he will miss about Pahrump, Tomasini said he would miss the togetherness of the town.
“I can not believe how much love and support there is in this town. When people come together here it’s just incredible. I kinda think it’s like this secret — it’s something that when you drive into town you don’t really see. Students treat each other here with huge amounts of kindness. The experience has been awesome.”