Wandering through a high school’s halls, looking for the band room on the first day of freshman year with an instrument nearly my size, terrified me. But I knew that Arrowhead High School’s band room would become a sort of home away from home. The sense of mutual interest and enthusiasm shared in that room made it welcoming.
Mr. Polancich, the Band Director at Arrowhead High School, has put countless hours into not only the music department, but also into being an educator who inspires, pushes students to do his or her best to ensure his classes are productive.
I attended marching band camp the August before my first year at AHS, and Mr. P stood out to me as a teacher unlike any I’d had before. He helped kids with music and explained rhythms and melodies differently so everybody could understand them. Playing the euphonium in treble clef, I am a difficult to accommodate (it’s a sparsely utilized instrument). But Mr. P always makes sure every song fits my instrument.
Mr. Polancich tells stories to his band and music theory classes about his jazz gigs and concerts he attended. Every class, he makes sure we laugh, learn and open our eyes and ears to new things. He pushes us until we are the best we can be. We have auditions for ensembles and he lets only the ones ready in. These classroom experiences affected me in and out of school, and I am left with a feeling of inspiration after every class. Mr. P is like superhero disguised in formal teaching attire.
In March, we went on a concert tour of Ireland in which Mr. Polancich brought over 100 high school students across the ocean into a foreign country. Mr. P’s calm and collective (yet caring and computed attitude) kept the trip problem free. I, as well as my fellow students, learned about culture, music and what being a professional musician is like on that trip. I hope Mr. P knows how much we appreciate what he has done for us—these memories and lessons will continue to inspire and push me in my career as a musician.
Mr. P is a musically cultured man, yet he is not pretentious (as many people in his position would be). This has helped me be less judgemental and more appreciative of all genres of music. Playing pieces composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven, John Mackey, and John Philip Sousa creates a diverse mix of classical and contemporary music in my repertoire.
Through his classes, I have met lifelong friends. Through his classes, I have discovered things I never thought I could do. And through his class, I have met the best educator I have ever had. Thank you, Mr. P.