VIDEO: Decades of students give music teacher theatrical farewell

Belmont theatre students surprised Jamie Thomas with a memorable performance

The covert operation began with a Facebook page called “Mr. T’s final curtain call.”

In just a few weeks, the group had accumulated 335 members willing to participate in the farewell stunt.

The target? Belmont Elementary School’s music teacher, Jamie Thomas.

Thomas had been an educator for 38 years, spending 29 of them in the Langley School District.

Admired by his students for the elaborate musical productions during his time at Belmont, this month’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would be the last of Thomas’s career.

Parkinson’s disease has forced the 60-year-old teacher to leave his job at the end of the school year, casting him into a full time neurological fight that has already taken away his ability to play music.

“I know my body’s going to slowly deteriorate,” said Thomas, “but I’m going to fight it as long as I can.”

Read More: Teacher’s departure marks end of an era at Langley school

There would be no way co-worker and fellow teacher Rachelle Beaulieu was going to let Thomas leave without a proper sendoff. Beaulieu was the mastermind behind the Facebook group and what “Mr. T’s final curtain call” grew into.

“A couple months ago, I started a Facebook group saying they wanted to do this,” Beaulieu explained.” I just put the small the little group out there and let social media do its thing.”

Over 200 students from Thomas’s 14 musical productions showed up at the Belmont playground during the final performance last Saturday – ready to send off their theatre teacher in the most dramatic fashion possible.

“The reception started at school yard,” Beaulieu recounted. “After the play wrapped and Jamie [Thomas] came up on stage to give his thank-you’s, we cut the mic and the actor playing Joseph yelled “guards, seize him!” Then the cast sat him down on a throne which was part of the set.”

Music from last year’s production, Oliver Twist, started to blare over the speakers. In came the former cast, singing the show’s signature song “Consider Yourself” as they took over the stage.

The 2017 cast of Seussical stormed in next, signifying this would be nothing short of a massive parade.

From Pete’s Dragon to Mary Poppins, familiar faces wanting to wish their teacher well, filled the gym to put on a completely new production just for Thomas.

“Students came in carrying signs to say what production they were from – some even had costumes,” said Beaulieu. “There were reps from all 14 musicals Jamie [Thomas] had been a part of over the years.”

By the time everyone packed inside, the stage was overflowing with dancing students going as far back as Thomas’s first production, Trial of the Big Bad Wolf in 1991.

Together in a chorus, the group of former thespians sang an original song with lyrics thanking Thomas for the memories and all he had done for them during his career.

“It just seems surreal,” said Thomas. “I feel like I’m a hardworking teacher, but I’m not extraordinary. I’m at a loss for words about it. I’m completely humbled and confused on why I was deserving of this.”

On whether or not Thomas had any idea, Beaulieu said “he is such a humble person. I think he suspected something but nothing of this magnitude.”

Thomas and his wife, Wendy, moved to Chilliwack several months ago, where he hopes to do substitute teaching there or possibly even in the Langley district in the future.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Just Posted

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

RCMP believe Missing Hope teenager was headed to Chilliwack

Keely Reeze Loewen, 18, last in contact with a family member on June 13

Chilliwack residents reminded to ‘stand by your pan’ after kitchen fire Tuesday

Unattended pot on stove leads to fire and smoke damage in McIntosh apartment unit

Session will help Chilliwack seniors with paperwork plans

The June 25 info session will cover POAs, wills, and more

Question period won’t change after Chilliwack trustee motion fails

Public participation will continue to be limited to items on the night’s agenda

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Victoria double murder trial: Blood splatter analyst found no shoe prints on scene

RCMP analyst testifies to smears, fingermarks, ‘swipe and wipe’ patterns around apartment

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Channel your inner pirate in epic Canada-wide treasure hunt

200 treasure chests hidden among trails and waterways, lots of prizes to be claimed

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Most Read