More than twelve years ago, the leaders of TEMPO, The Easton Music Parents Organization, decided that they’d like to honor retired teacher and Assistant Principal Sue Rivard with a lasting tribute to the energy and spirit she had always lavished on the student musicians of the Easton public schools.
It took a while, what with getting all of the permissions needed, and then waiting through the extensive renovations and additions to the Oliver Ames High School; but, on a brisk but sunny afternoon on Saturday, on the grounds of the high school, the tree was dedicated to the delight of Sue’s family, friends and colleagues.
George Farrell, former president of TEMPO, and a former student of Sue Rivard when he was in high school, welcomed Sue’s family and friends to the dedication ceremony.
Sue Rivard has been a legend at the high school; decorating her yard at the corner of Lothrop and Sheridan Streets with sheets decorated with messages of congratulations, banners, signs, balloons – all to applaud and welcome home the student musicians and student athletes who would pass by in busses on their way back to the school from games and competitions. She retired in 1999, but has continued to attend every sporting and musical event that she can and still displays her support of the student athletes and musicians on her front lawn. She noted a friend had attended a performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie, this year’s OA musical, and pronounced it “better than the one I saw on Broadway!”
In her own scholastic days, Sue had been both an athlete and a musician, playing multiple sports as well as the trumpet; and balancing the practice and performance schedules of her music and her sports. When she began teaching in 1962, as a physical education teacher in the former high school, now the Easton Junior High School, she remembered what it was like to balance athletics and music and she vowed to stay active in support of both. And she did. Over the next 37 years, as Sue advanced from teacher, to Dean of Students, to Assistant Principal, hundreds of students marveled at the teacher and friend who seemed to be everywhere … at every sporting event and at every musical performance.
Standing in front of her tree, a seven foot Fraser Fir, Sue reminisced about her days supporting both music and sports. She spoke of her admiration for both programs, noting that music and sports had continually produced amazingly talented students and championship years with student athletes winning state titles in various sports and band, orchestra and choral groups garnering gold medals and championships in music events around New England. She noted that the OA Marching Band was honored to have been invited to perform in the national Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C.
Charlene Lorion Dalrymple, OA’s award-winning Music Department Chair and Choral Director, and Elaine “Laney” Clement-Holbrook, OA’s championship girls varsity basketball coach and a biology teacher at OA, spoke at the dedication. Dalrymple and Clement-Holbrook remembered the guidance, mentoring and support that Sue Rivard gave them when they began their teaching careers in Easton. And both educators marveled at Sue’s ability to seemingly be everywhere – at basketball and baseball games; at show choir and marching band competitions, at musicals and concerts – and in the halls of the high school giving students directions and advice.
Along with Sue’s family and friends, Mark Costa – standing in for his wife Lauri, the current TEMPO President, who was out of town - and Sue Healy, TEMPO Secretary were in attendance to thank Sue for her years of support for all school’s music programs.
Sue Rivard’s tree will stand and grow on the grounds of Oliver Ames High School, a welcoming presence to all who pass by – to students who are athletes, musicians and scholars and their families; to new teachers and seasoned educators; to school administrators and staff.
And just a few hundred yards down Lothrop Street, just as she always has – and for as long as she can - when those students return on their busses from competitions, games and performances, Sue Rivard will be in her yard, waving banners and applauding each and every one.