Arts and Entertainment

Arlington's Forde retires after 35 years

Lyle Forde is retiring after 35 years of teaching at Arlington High School. - Kirk Boxleitner
Lyle Forde is retiring after 35 years of teaching at Arlington High School.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — After 35 years of leading the choral program at Arlington High School, Lyle Forde will bid farewell to the school only a few days after this year’s graduating class does the same.

AHS will be hosting Forde’s retirement concert and reception starting at 7 p.m. on June 18, and while Forde acknowledged his reservations about the impacts of state budget cuts to school music programs, he emphasized that he’s leaving the school pleased with what he was able to accomplish with the support of his students, fellow staff members and the surrounding community.

“Many students are finding it difficult to continue in long-term music classes like band and choir,” Forde said. “Our district has something special with our fine and performing arts programs, and needs to maintain those programs regardless of financial challenges.”

When Forde started teaching at AHS in 1976, he not only added choirs, a guitar class, and a piano and keyboard class during his first few years at the school, but he also changed the focus of the “Swing Choir” into the renamed “Jazzmine” vocal jazz-based choir. Forde’s goal was to build the musical skills of each individual student, which he sought to do by teaching them such rudiments as note reading, “the language of a musician,” and proper breathing.

“Excellent individual musicians naturally result in excellent ensembles,” Forde said. “A thriving music program not only enriches students, but also can be a valuable tool in establishing a kinship with the community.”

Forde expressed his gratitude to the community for its support of the school’s choirs, including their participation in the biannual community choir performances of Handel’s “Messiah,” as well as their consistent attendance of Jazzmine shows and other musical events.

“I will miss the close interactions I have had with our community, our faculty and staff, our many wonderful parents and, most of all, the rewarding relationships that have been established with so many amazing students,” Forde said. “I know many students will enjoy the thrills of making music throughout the remainder of their lives, partly because of our experiences together at AHS.”

Forde hopes to continue teaching, possibly part-time and at the post-high school level, but he’s also considering seeking employment in boating, since he has his Coast Guard captain’s license and previously fished on the high seas for 12 years.

In the meantime, AHS choral students and alumni are invited to join the rest of the community in commemorating Forde’s time at the school during his June 18 retirement concert.


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