Concert to honor longtime teacher’s musical legacy

When choral teacher Susan Crua leads Canajoharie students in singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in concert on June 6, she will be paying tribute to a teacher who inspired her, many years ago.

Crua, who is retiring at the end of the year after 18 years of teaching in Canajoharie, said the song she chose for her final concert in the district is meaningful on many levels.

The concert will feature choral groups from elementary through high school, reuniting Crua with many of the students she has taught over the years.

The June 6 performance also falls on the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II.

Among the 73,000 Americans in the D-Day invasion was William “Stan” McMillan, who survived the battle and returned to teach music at Canajoharie.

Crua was one of McMillan’s students, and the patriotic “Battle Hymn” holds fond memories for her, she said.

“When I was a high school senior, that was the song we sang, and I remember leaving high school with that incredible feeling of loving to sing,” she recalled.

As Crua looks forward to honoring her former teacher, others have already paid tribute to her.

A Teacher Appreciation assembly at East Hill Elementary on Friday included a flash mob and remarks from Principal Stacy Ward and some of Crua’s students.

“You teach the life of music,” Crua’s students said. “You make people feel good about themselves. You make us shine like the brightest star in space.”

Ward praised Crua for establishing a chorus program at the elementary school that now includes more than 80 fourth- and fifth-grade students.

“We want to start them young, and we want to teach them to sing real choral music,” Crua explained. Beyond the musical knowledge they gain in her classroom, Crua said her students learn social skills and teamwork.

“It gives them something to feel proud of,” Crua explained. “It gives them the chance to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Crua said she will miss her students and colleagues.

“I’ve worked with the most wonderful, amazing, professional group of people I could have ever asked for,” Crua said.

The June 6 concert will begin at 7 p.m. at the Arkell Performing Arts Center.