Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mary Lynn (Thornton) Riggs

Hi Mr. Javens!

Happy Birthday! I've often wanted to send my high school teachers notes of thanks because of their great influence on me, and helping me become who I am today, so I will combine that with this note today! Thanks for having a birthday so I can do that :)

First of all I want to say thank you for teaching me so much about music and making it pure fun. You are the reason that I can play the clarinet -- you never charged me for private lessons, you just spent a little extra time with me during summer practices and gave me pointers. It made all the difference between me struggling to learn, and loving to learn to play. And you made everything fun! I never think about keeping the beat without seeing your tapping toe while you led us in the band room.

I don't know if you remember this or not, but when I was in sixth grade, the Jr. High & High School were still together, and you were still in need of band members, so you petitioned the elementary teachers to see if there were any students willing to come to High School band practice and see if they wanted to play in the band. I remember that James Christensen and I went, and I couldn't believe that a sixth grader was actually able to be in a high school band! This is where I first began my love for sports of all sorts, because we played at all the home football and basketball games. I decided that if I was going to be at all those football games, I needed to learn the sport. So my Dad taught me the game, and I loved each and every ball game that we went to from that day through my Senior year.

One of my first memories of going with the band was being getting to go with the band to St. George to perform. My parents weren't too keen on letting a junior high kid go with a high school band out of town. So you talked to them, and promised that you and your wife would personally take good care of me. And you did! I felt pretty important getting to hang out with you two, eat lunch with you, etc. Thanks for caring so much for your students, even the beginners.

My favorite memories of band include my 8th grade year when GHS went to the State Championships in football and basketball. I remember freezing at some of the playoff games when it was snowing and so bitter cold. Someone felt a little sorry for us dedicated band members and bought us all hot chocolate! I'm sure you had something to do with that! But cold or not, the band always played "Here Comes the King", and many other great fight songs, and that contributed to the fun of that year. That year, the basketball team took the championship in basketball. I can remember driving back on the band bus and coming around the point of the mountain by the Great Salt Lake and seeing the steady stream of vehicles and busses going from Lake Point on into Grantsville. You said that as soon as we hit Main Street we could start playing, and we opened our windows as soon as we got into town and started playing. Our band was a huge part of the school spirit at GHS, and that is because of your great leadership.

I loved the enthusiam with which you taught us our music, and I still have an intense love for music to this day. You are a very big part of that. I appreciate all the songs you taught us -- there was a great variety, and I loved it. Every time I hear "Smoke on the Water", and any John Philip Sousa fight song, I can see you leading us!

Some other favorite memories I have are of performing for the Old Folks Sociable in the high school auditorium (before it burned down). I loved the feeling that was felt by all as we came down both aisles booming loud, and seeing all the people stand up and appreciate what we were playing. In that little space, we sounded really big. It was great. Another fabulous memory was marching at Rice Stadium in a competition. You practiced us hard in Grantsville, and we were so glad when we got to that huge stadium and saw so many other great bands performing. I loved the trips to St. George! They were looked forward to all year!

Last of all, thanks for your great smile and words of encouragement. You made every time we performed seem special! I remember when I was a Senior, and was so busy, and we were supposed to get out of class early to get ready for a pep assembly. I asked you if I could miss it because I had so many things to do that day. You reminded me of the times the band had supported me in my athletics, and asked me just to come as long as I could, so I could show my support to whoever this assembly was for. It taught me a lesson. It also taught me that you had compassion for me because you let me go early. You are a teacher through and through.

For all you have done for me, my family and Grantsville, thanks so very much. I truly love you, and wish you the best birthday ever!!!


Mary Lynn (Thornton)Riggs
GHS Class of 1983

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