FC: Dear Mr. Dawson
1: For the last several years, many of us, Thunderbird Marching Band Alums, have taken a summer camping trip together at Buck’s Lake. Without fail, over the course of the campout, the topic of conversation always seems to turn to memories of band camp, the various competitions we went to, and to you, Mr. Dawson. We all have special memories of you and attribute many life lessons to you. You have impacted all of our lives in so many ways and we wanted to express our gratitude and appreciation to you. We wish you a long, happy, and healthy retirement. We hope you enjoy this book.
4: Dear Mr. Dawson: When I first met you in August of 1985 I had just moved to Oroville from Southern California. I was a violin and bass player who had been very active in my junior high’s orchestra program and with the California Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. I was very disappointed that Las Plumas didn’t have an orchestra program but somehow ended up talking to you and Carolyn anyway. By the end of that first conversation I was a member of your marching band and would become part of the drum corps. Within a few days I was on a bus full of kids I didn’t know heading for band camp feeling very unsure and very alone. Luckily within hours of arriving at Bucks Lake, Carol Higgens offered me a piece of beef jerky and would become my very first band friend. Twenty-six years later we are still friends! If only I knew then that over the course of that week at band camp (and throughout the four years I spent in marching band), I would meet people (including my husband!) who would become life-long friends. Go places that I had never dreamed of. Learn life lessons and skills that would significantly influence the adult I am today. So Thank you for creating the marching band program at Las Plumas and for nurturing it along into the special program it became. Thank you for going far above and beyond what was required and expected of you as a teacher. I know you made personal sacrifices and were paid very little, but I rarely heard you complain. Thank you for doing everything you did to get us all to Australia. Thank you for teaching me that “I could” when I thought “I couldn’t”. Thank you for teaching me personal responsibility. Thank you for showing me how to set and achieve my goals. Thank you for showing me how to break huge, intimidating endeavors into small, manageable tasks. Thank you for teaching me that if I could “conceive it and believe it, I could achieve it.” Thank you for teaching me how to work well with others. Thank you for teaching me how to take the handlebars of my life and steer it where I wanted it to go. Thank you for creating the shared experiences out of which so many special friendships grew. Thank you for being enthusiastic, creative, energetic, and patient. Thank you for calling “bullshit” on me the many times I deserved it! Thank you for letting me be your TA in your first period guitar class my senior year. I know you didn’t really need a TA in that class but I so appreciated the extra time I had to do homework and the many conversations we had. But most of all, thank you for making me, that scared new kid, feel so welcomed and at home in your band and at Las Pumas High School. For all these things you are appreciated more than I could ever adequately express. Wishing you a long and happy retirement! Jennifer Logue Nail, Drum Corps, 1985-1989
5: Brad and Jennifer Nail 2009 | Brad Nail and Jennifer Logue 1988
6: Dear Mr. Dawson: | I would like to congratulate you and thank you for choosing a career that made it possible for you to touch so | many lives in positive way. During my six and a half years at Las Plumas High School (just kidding - only four), being a part of the marching band provided me with the opportunity to take part in something great, and something great it was. Not only did I learn many valuable lessons that | involved discipline and duh, winning, but I even met my soul mate, and now lovely wife Jennifer, at Buck's Lake during the legendary Band Camp of '85. Your dedication, drive, and vision created an atmosphere that made band much more than just a class period. To me, the Las Plumas High School Marching Band, under your direction, was so much larger than the sum of its parts. I know I may not have been on of your most dedicated or engaged students, but what I managed to come away with will last me a lifetime. So, here's to you, the beautiful friendships, the wonderful memories, and most important of all, the music. Congratulations on your retirement and may your next journey be one that is as rewarding as a person like you deserves. Best Wishes, Bradley Wayne Nail, Saxophone, 1982-1986
7: Dear Mr. Dawson: Glen: a man always driven, because you had to be in order to get a large group of teens to successfully act like young adults for over an hour at a time, which truly speaks to your gifts. I have to thank you because you reflected truthfully to me the way life actually worked, which not many other "adults" did at the time. A place where happiness is possible but you have to work at it and you can accomplish anything you wanted to with sustained effort and a positive attitude. It may sound hard to believe but at that time for me those ideas bordered on science fiction. Your simple philosophy of find out what you want, find out how to get there and be happy is still with me and in some ways it's still as radical as it was back then. Greg Hradecky, Drum Corps, 1981-1985
9: Dear Mr. Dawson: The last time I saw you I called you Glenn. The time before that, I called you Mr. Dawson. The only difference was that I had graduated high school and with that came a sense of 'having grown up' which empowered me to call you by your first name. How utterly silly I was. In fact, I had not grown-up at all. It took many years before I became the man that I am today. It was in that true growing period that I learned who and what I am today, and it has been a glorious life. I am a confident, caring, gentle man. I am surrounded by those who love me and I love them. Some how, now, with humility I wish to still call you Mr. Dawson. It still seems most appropriate and it feels right. In the years since I graduated I have had wonderful epiphanies. One of these epiphanies is directly related to you. I realized sometime ago that I wanted to reach out to you and discuss my life and your influence on my life. I wasn't sure how I would do that. After all, I had moved away after high school and started a new life and lost track of you, thinking that I might never see you again. But I remained friends with a few good band friends and they seemed to always have some story about how you were fairing over these last 25 years. So I guess I always felt that I would have the opportunity to see you again, face-to-face. My epiphany? I realized that no man has impacted my growth as a leader more than you have. I never had a father, so male role models were few and far in between, but you were there in my most formative years, steering me along and empowering me as a young man, setting the tone for my life to come. Your influence shaped my sense of leadership and responsibility. I wish that I had known these things when I was a youngster, and I wish that I could have told you this much earlier, but the great lapse of time has made telling you now all that much, much more sweet. You may recall that I was raised by my Grandmother and she died leaving me and my sister without guardians just months before I graduated. It was you who came to her funeral and stood near me and supported me in my most challenging moment in life. No other teacher and very few close friends stood with me that day. In fact I do not remember who was at that funeral - not even family members. I only remember you. I will never forget that. Later in life, after attending U.C. Berkeley and graduating in Physics, I thought back about all the scholarships and awards and recognition that I received in those last months of high school in 1984 and another epiphany happened. It dawned on me that it must have been you that focused the attention of the teaching staff on me. You nominated me for many awards. I did take home many awards and honors. I am not sure if this is true, but it seems to me that you were always just a step away in the shadow allowing me the sunlight, watching over me and advocating for me for no other reason than you cared. Thank you for teaching me to be responsible to myself and to others. Thank you for placing me in a leadership role in the band. Thank you for standing with me and advocating for me. Thank you for standing with me in my darkest hour. I will always remember you as my favorite teacher, and I am proud to know you. You may call upon me anytime, anywhere and I will serve you with gratitude and love. All my best, Jim Lukes, Trumpet, First Chair, Las Plumas Marching Band, 1980-1984
10: Dear Mr. Dawson: Being in high school seems like yesterday, but graduating 25 years ago is a long time. I remember walking into the band room for the first time, scared to death really not that good of a flute player. I spent too much time cutting and sleeping-in during junior high band. The fear was gone quickly. You were kind and put up with all of us. There was always that sense of family and that was from you and Carolyn and the countless hours you devoted to your passion. Freshman year was a killer. What the heck were you thinking about a different half time show every other week?? Man we marched our butts off, but I will say I still have great legs from all that marching. If we were not on the field, we were on the side street. I have to say, my favorite was definitely Band Camp. I learned how to chew Copenhagen, I learned endurance, friendship, how to stay in a straight line, share a bathroom with 40 plus other girls. I loved the lake and the mountains. Bucks Lake has become one of my favorite places to go as an adult. While my daughter was in 4-H she spent many summers there at our band camp. This one time at Band Camp... sure has special meaning now that I am an adult. It took a lot of years for me to finally realize the dedication you had day after day. I have to say THANK YOU for the life lessons I learned while playing music, marching, competing, performing, or just hanging out in your office. You were hands down my favorite teacher in high school, even when you busted me for cutting band class my senior year. Man, you were pissed. I still remember the look on your face. Thanks again for the memories. Enjoy retirement.! Karey Randall, Flute, 1982-1986
13: Dear Mr. Dawson: So you are retiring? Hard to believe that nearly 30 years have passed since I was a scared freshman heading off to Band Camp at Bucks Lake for the first time. I have to say some of my most cherished memories from high school come out of my time spent in the band room at Las Plumas High School. I don’t think at the time any of us realized the greatness we were creating as you waved your magic wand. I can only speak for myself, but having a sense of family and belonging in that band room made the somewhat difficult high school years bearable. Before Glee had Mr. Shuster, we all had Mr. Dawson. I remember you posting motivational sayings around the band room. One that comes to mind is, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” I’ve carried that saying with me throughout my life, knowing that if I want something it’s up to me to make it happen. I’m responsible for my own destiny. When I think of the countless hours we all spent working on field shows, or new music, or marching to get those lines straight, you were always there pushing us to be the best we could be. You pushed us farther and farther with each season to make us the best marching band out there. You weren't satisfied with just getting us to first place, you pushed us all the way to winning sweepstakes at competitions. Some of the most notable moments for me were the field shows you would painstakingly craft. While we were marching and learning the routines it didn’t seem like were going very far, but in the end we would march that 10 minute field show and blow away the crowd. Marching to Dynasty, and Copacabana while Greg Hradecky danced in an ape suit and the Golden Gate Bridge popped up from the fog below were truly standouts. Paying tribute to Michael Madsen while he was in a coma and dedicating our field show to him and playing the Sergio Mendes song, “Never Gonna Let You Go” were truly inspirational. I never thought of being in band as a sacrifice. It was a fun, safe place to be. I enjoyed the music, the marching and the friendships that were built along the way. Sure, we were made fun of by the other students at LP, but no one can deny that we gave a lot of recognition and T-Bird pride to our school in winning the numerous competitions we won. Can the football team say the same thing? You were by far one of my favorite teachers. At the time I didn’t realize it, but you taught us all about hard work, dedication, pushing ourselves to be better, teamwork, and sacrifice. For all those things, I thank you. I always thought you and Carolyn would have been incredible parents. You are both remarkable individuals who offered so much of yourselves to us. Maybe in ways we were your kids. You were there every day after school to guide us through routines. You were there on weekends while we were marching in a parade or some competition always cheering us on. You were always there to pick us up when we were down. So, Mr. Dawson, as you go off onto your next journey in life, I hope you carry with you all the memories of laughter and love that we all shared as members of the Thunderbird Marching Band. I have carried those memories with me since then, and will continue to carry them with me. For all that you did for us, and all that you taught us. Thank you! Gene Boucher – Clarinet – 1982 to 1986
15: Dear Mr. Dawson:
18: Duh, winning!
21: Dear Mr. Dawson, where do I begin? I suppose it begins with Gordon Jackson, the man who introduced me to the possibility of theatre and performing. Who gave me the opportunity to play with the big kids when I was in 8th grade by casting me in LP’s production of Peter Pan. This is where I was first introduced to the Las Plumas band as they were the orchestra for the production. And the first time I heard about and saw the infamous Glenn Dawson. I lived in the Oroville High School district but I knew that I had to be a part of these two programs – band and drama – and work with these two incredible men. I went as far as petitioning the school board. My father and I attended a school board meeting and he stood at my side as I plead my case as to why I must be a part of these programs. My request was denied. I was crushed. Luckily, my parents saw the deep desire I had to make this happen so we concocted a plan. My great uncle lived in the LPHS district so I moved in with him – on paper that is – and in 1985 I enrolled at LPHS. Then the news that Gordon would not be returning to LP in the fall. I was crushed. But I knew that I still had band. I missed band camp that first summer, as I was on staff at Glacier Trails Scout Ranch. I had not yet learned the importance of “BAND CAMP”. School began and I was a member of the drum corps. Having missed camp, I felt so behind and felt overwhelmed. Drum practice every day after school? That middle bass drum was heavy, it was hot and the rehearsals were long. What was I thinking? I plead my case to my parents about how I wanted to quit. It was too much. My father stood by my side although he said, “Case denied- Wamsley’s do not quit.” And I am so grateful because the next four years of being part of the Las Plumas High School Marching Band would shape the rest of my life. Glenn taught me leadership. That anything is possible. To go for your dreams no matter what. Discipline and hard work reap infinite rewards. I have laughed with him. Cried with him. Water-skied with him. Felt loved and accepted in my new family of marching band “geeks”. I have been inspired and have implemented his teachings into my own throughout the years. Band camp. Australia Quest. Six to fives. Power steps. Field shows. Football games. Pep band. My heart in San Francisco. Stray cat strut and the twist. Flag girls. ID team. Charter busses. BIG truck! Marching. Marching. Marching. Drill downs. RV’s. Practice room. Hot tub. Bathroom floor. Variations on a theme. Water ski. Band camp. Passing out. Campfires. Skits and songs. Marching. Marching. Marching. Deep in the heart of Texas. Bass drums, tri-toms. Practice. Practice. Practice. Don’t stop. Never quit. Out of town trips. Best friends. Loyalty. Leadership and never quit. Never quit. Never quit. And know when its time to move on. Glenn you are an amazing man and you have truly helped shape the man that I am today and for that I will always be grateful. All the best in your new adventures that await you. Chad Lewis Wamsley, Drum Corps 1985-88, Drum Major 1988-89
22: Dear Mr. Dawson: You had to be the coolest teacher at our school, helping a dorky little guy like me always feel comfortable. Your inspiration helped build my confidence to become a strong, outspoken, successful man. I mean, how does a band from ho-dunk Oroville even GET invited to Sydney, Australia for the World Expo? That just doesn't happen to kids like us! But it did. And we have experiences that will live with us forever because of your hard work, dedication and amazing ability to reach each and every one of us. Congratulations on an amazing career. And from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU. High school would NOT have been the same without you being a part of it. Good luck on your retirement, and I hope you're still waterskiing, Awesome Dawson. Jimmy (James) Williams, Flute, 1985-1989
23: Lisa Yount Siever, Flute, 1983-1987 | Dear Mr. Dawson:
24: Dear Mr. Dawson: You have touched many lives over the years in one way or another. We all appreciate your hard work and dedication. Thank you for the awesome memories that many of us can still reflect on today. Rawni Ruiz Ross, Flags, 1985-1989
25: Dear Mr. Dawson: I would just like to thank you for everything you have brought to my life and for molding me into the person I am today. Some of the greatest memories of my life were spent under your leadership and guidance. As a director and teacher you taught us leadership, responsibility and my favorite, "to be on time is to be late". One priceless gift you have given me is the bonds and lifelong friendships that I treasure daily. I have to say I'm so proud of you and your accomplishments. Teaching is one of the hardest professions out there and you did it with such skill and grace, making it look so easy, Life has shown me it's not easy at all. Enjoy retirement. You have earned it and bless you. With love, Carol Higgens Spangler, Saxophone, 1985-1989