“On behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86; the Executive Committee, the Members, the Citizens of Wetaskiwin, and the surrounding community, I say thank you Paul.” These were the words expressed by Roy Foster, Education and Publicity Chairman, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86, Wetaskiwin explaining their appreciation for the contributions made by Paul, his students and the Wetaskiwin Composite High School band. Roy specifically refers to them being, “a major contributor during the yearly Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Wetaskiwin Drill Hall. The Wetaskiwin Composite High School Band and Choir play a very important part during Remembrance Day Ceremonies and the Legion wishes to continue this association for years to come”. Joining Roy in offering thanks was Comrade Glen Brososky.
Paul Sweet deserves every word of praise, and more. Each year he volunteers between 800-1400 hours of his own personal time to direct the Concert Band, Concert Voices, Chamber Choir, Jazz Band, Vocal Jazz Choir and The Shades of Blue Jazz Combo. He also plans and hosts 6 major music events and oversees performances at numerous smaller events such as hospitals and schools.
Madison Ouellette, a Gr. XI student at WCHS joined Mr. Sweet to accept the compliments and thanks from the Legion. She exemplifies the commitment students dedicate to the music program. Madison participates in all the extracurricular music groups. In addition to her academic and music responsibilities, she is involved in other activities such as being a competitive volleyball player. “Lots of things in the lives of young people are challenging with many choices and decisions to make,” explains Sweet, “so the music program has to be flexible to keep them involved.”
The WCHS involvement in Remembrance Day is very important to Paul on a personal level as his father was a WWII veteran and a long time Legion member. While growing up in Nova Scotia and since moving to Wetaskiwin, he has played the Last Post and Reveille on many occasions for Remembrance Day as well as other occasions and Church services. He has great respect for the continued efforts of the Royal Canadian Legion and is very thankful for the generous support of the Wetaskiwin Legion Branch #86 towards the WCHS Music Program.
Paul Sweet has been a teacher at the Wetaskiwin Composite High School since 1986. In addition to teaching Social 10 and 20, Mr. Sweet also teaches Instrumental Music 10/20/30, Choral Music 10/20/30 and Instrumental Jazz Music 15/25/35. He also directs the Concert Band, Concert Voices, Chamber Choir, Jazz Band, Vocal Jazz Choir and The Shades of Blue Jazz Combo. These groups have traveled extensively over the past 26 years from coast to coast in Canada as well as to Hawaii, Montana, Seattle, New York, England and Scotland, most of the time with approximately 85-100 students per trip.
Prior to the move of the Remembrance Day service to the Drill Hall in 1993, only the Concert Choir was involved as the Memorial Centre was not big enough to handle the hundreds of people as well the Concert Band. Since that time, both groups have made the Remembrance Day service a key part of their yearly concerts. Each year approximately 120-140 music students participate in this major event. The students fully understand the importance of their involvement in Remembrance and how their music touches many of the people, both young and old. Consequently, very few students miss this service.
Mr. Foster concludes by saying, “The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86 in Wetaskiwin operates entirely by volunteers. I say thank you Paul and all your students who have passed through your great guidance and professional Teaching Program over the past years. We at the Legion are privileged to have many in our City, and surrounding area who contribute their valuable time, and knowledge, to make our Branch successful.”