Wetaskiwin Composite High School music director, Paul Sweet, was stunned and emotional as he was presented with the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal by Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins at the high school's annual Christmas concert Dec. 16.
His genuine surprise and gratitude had some in the audience wiping away tears as Paul Sweet was given the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal.
The Wetaskiwin Composite High School music director was honored with the medal at the school's annual holiday concert Dec. 16.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal was presented to a surprised Sweet by Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins during the concert's intermission.
Before pinning the medal on Sweet's suit jacket lapel, Calkins gave the hundreds gathered in the high school gymnasium that afternoon a brief history on the work that Sweet has done in his adoptive community.
When he first arrived in Wetaskiwin from Nova Scotia, Sweet taught for five years at Clear Vista School before joining the teaching staff at the high school.
"Through his literally thousands of volunteer hours with the concert band and concert choir, jazz band and jazz choir and combos, Paul has not only shared his love of music, he has been a friend and mentor to hundreds of students", Calkins spoke of Sweet.
Besides the work that Sweet does in the classroom with the students, he and his wife, Bev, have been taking students on trips across North America to perform at different venues and music festivals and to learn more about music and music appreciation.
"I know that Paul also believes expanding ones understanding of the world is as important to a student's education as calculation tables and science lessons," said Calkins.
"I was just speaking with Bev (Sweet) the other day and I asked her how many students her and Paul have taken on their famous music trips. The number is in excess of 1,500.
"Travelling each year on a spring tour, they have led students to British Columbia, Washington State, Montana, Hawaii, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and on four different occasions England, Scotland and Wales."
Sweet's music students have been an important part of various community events throughout the years.
"Another lesson he has worked to instill in students is the importance of service to one's community. This is why his groups have been providing music at the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies in Wetaskiwin in support of the City of Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian Legion Wetaskiwin branch for over 20 years. I know this event is of particular importance to Paul because his father served in the Second World War," explained Calkins, adding that Sweet's son Adam also served with a government division recently in Afghanistan.
"It gives me great pleasure today to present Paul Sweet with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal," Calkins said which drew a thunderous applause and standing ovation from the audience.
"I'll buy you something really nice for Christmas, I promise," joked Sweet's wife Bev, about keeping the secret of the medal from her husband.