By Amitha Halthore ’18 and Rachel Folmar ’20
Starting at the end of the school year, three high school staff members will retire. One of these three is Mr. Scott Litzenberg, director of the marching band, the concert band, the symphonic band, the jazz band, the annual musical, and most recently, the orchestra. Some of Mr. Litzenberg’s fondest memories of the high school include the moments after performances where he and his students accomplished their goals. One specific memory that Mr. Litzenberg remembers is the first time the band won the Gator Bowl band competition in Florida.
As a teacher, Litzenberg hopes for students to know that he cared about them, even when they weren’t sure of themselves. Litzenberg wishes for his students to “find something [they] enjoy– no matter how hard it might seem.” Litzenberg wants the high school community to know that they shouldn’t take “what we have for granted because it took a long time to get here.”
In his 20 years, Litzenberg said, “We [he and his students] were always together.” Litzenberg feels lucky to be a part of the Music Department with all of the students. Even though he’s going to be directing other kids, he said, “Unionville students are very special.”
Mrs. Heidi Benson will also retire this year, after 37 years of teaching. In her time at the high school, she has helped grow the Art Department from comprising one full-time teacher and one part-time teacher to employing three full-time teachers.
Mrs. Benson grew up in Chester County and said, “I really enjoyed being a part of positive cha
nge as the art community grew and changed.” Once she graduated college, she was hired by the high school as a “Freshie,” or someone who is hired right out of college.
Since she was hired, Benson has noticed significant changes at the school. She said, “We started in 1981 as being a highly agricultural area where we had students who had to leave school to go milk their cows.” Now she cites the expansion of the parking lot to accommodate students’ cars as evidence that times have changed at the high school.
Of her time at the high school, Benson said, “An amazing attribute of the high school is that the students come ready to learn.” She appreciates that students at the high school are set up for success when they come to school, which, “
makes the teachers’ job one of the best because our students want to learn.” She said that she feels “happiness and achievement” that many of her students pursue the visual arts later in their careers.
In a world which she feels is becoming “more safe and reluctant to pursue things that are new and different” every day, Benson believes “art is a secret weapon to make a better world.” She also hopes that, through the lessons she teaches in art, she has inspired students to have “an appreciation that that which is different is beautiful.”
Besides her professional relationship Benson has a personal relationship with her time at the high school; in her first year teaching at the school, she met her husband, to whom she has now been married for 37 years. She said that the two met when they w
ere forced to carpool after Benson’s car broke down. Her first impression of him was that he was “not sensitive enough to the arts because he was such a huge athlete coach type personality,” but that the two quickly realized that they “couldn’t stop talking once they started.” After first trying to set him up with another girl, Benson said she realized that he would be perfect for her. The couple had their first date on Halloween of 1981, and they were married by June.
Although she is retiring from the high school, Benson will continue to teach a program for teens at CCArts.
The high school is also saying goodbye to Ms. Pamela Graybeal, one of the German teachers at the high school. She is “going through a big career transition” and will be attending Cornell’s business school in Ithaca, New York. In her time at high school, Graybeal helped to create a new German curriculum, and the enrollment in the program has almost doubled over the past nine years.
Graduating senior Holly Clark said, “Frau Graybeal made German the most fun language to take at the high school. In her class, we ate a lot of food and had dance parties.” For Clark, German with Graybeal was more than learning a language; it was learning a culture.