Tag Archives: Ocean Shore School Pacifica

The Day The Music Died

600px-Music-caesura.svg

Sleepy Pacifica woke up this foggy Thursday morning still reeling from the devastating news of the passing of Mr. Jerry Downs. As the community grapples with this irreplaceable loss; teachers, parents and administrators struggle to find words and comfort not only for themselves, but, most of all, for Mr. Downs’ hundreds of students. As the cornerstone of the music program at IBL and Ocean Shore for the past 15 years and pushing 30 years with the District overall, Mr. Downs was a monumental influence and daily presence in the lives of Pacifica’s middle school students. My own daughters were in band, and my youngest, who is suffering his loss, is more concerned for her friends who have been in band for more than two years and are overwhelmed with grief.

 We all know how important music is in our lives. Its ministry extends far and wide, it gladdens, it soothes, it heals. When Karl Paulnack was at The Boston Conservatory, he shared in his Contemplation of Music address about what his community did on September 12, 2001, “At least in my neighborhood, we didn’t shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn’t play cards to pass the time, we didn’t watch TV, we didn’t shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang “We Shall Overcome.” Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.”

 I think Mr. Downs understood the magnitude music has in our lives, and gave his life for its cultivation in the best of our gardens: the hearts of our children. He not only cultivated a love for music, but also an appreciation for its execution, its execution with precision, excellence and mastery. He worked hard with the students, his class was not an easy A. He asked for hard work, and appreciated it when the students stepped up and mastered the lessons. His Spring Concert was the highlight of the middle school year. The dozens of trophies testify to the dedication, the drive and boundless energy Mr. Downs brought to his work. In The Voiceless, Oliver Wendell Homes wrote, “Alas for those that never sing, But die with all their music in them!” That was not going to happen if you were in Mr. Downs’ class. He awoke the love of music in our children’s hearts and souls.

 As we recover from the jolting shock of his death and continue to mourn his passing, it is a comfort to know that the seeds of music appreciation that he sowed in our kids’ lives will someday blossom, blossom when they remember … whenever they hear a familiar piece or understand a composition; his memory will guide and comfort them for the rest of their lives. For some, these seeds will yield musical fruit for a new generation.

 Although for the Pacifica community, yesterday was the day the music died, yet, thankfully, the music will live on in the hearts of our kids and the thousands of students who continue to love music because of Mr. Downs. Our condolences to his family, their loss is unimaginable.

Mr Downs

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THE BALCLUTHA REPORT

deckhand-crewCaptain Olson, Sir,
 
The following is my report on the crews commissioned by the Balclutha on Sunday, 23 October until sunrise 24 October. As always, Sir, I am disappointed with these crews upon first inspection. These scalawags were gleaned from the quaint Ocean Shore School in Pacifica, no doubt soft on discipline, and arrived at San Francisco’s Hyde Street Pier 1300 23 October. These rascally rapscallions were not prepared for the tasks that the honorable crews of the Balclutha have traditionally performed.
 
These lazy loafers made their way up the gangplank as slow as molasses. If it were not for my booming voice and hardhanded approach, this lot of miscreants would not have achieved the success they did. I confess I was flabbergasted with the remarkable fortitude these crews exhibited. Even when the nimble knave second mate, Swift, tried to lead them astray, they stayed faithful to you, Sir, yes sir, Sir, and resisted the temptation to gamble or murmur. That reprobate, Swifty, was right readily removed, and if he remains unrepentant, he will end up in  Davy Jones’ locker.
 
Nonetheless, our jolly mates cheered when Onion Peel, formerly known as Onion, took over second mate duties. Onion Peel and her faithful companion, Stumpy, proved to be the right man for the job in leading these crews to certification. I commend the crews from the 7th Grade Ocean Shore Class for their ability to adapt to changing circumstances, to work hard, to follow instructions and to band together for the good of the Balclutha and her beloved captain, Sir, yes sir, Sir.
 
The following crews shall be commended for their tasks:
 
The Deckhand crew, ably lead by Mate Ashley, not only successfully raised the ensign, but assisted in scrubbing the decks and cleaning after supper. Kudos to Natalie Martinez, Maximo Marcelino and Eloisa Fentanes.
 
The Bosun Crew was most handily lead by Mate Ella with most impressive assistance from Max Aylward, Allen Forte and Caleb Sun. Their swift learning of the ropes was just what we needed from a Bosun crew, Sir, yes sir, Sir.
 
The Rigger Crew, under your kind tutelage, Sir, superbly learned the rigs and was successful in raising the Bosun’s Chair. Mate J.C., as you know, Sir, commandeered the Rigger crew to competency and your instruction was not in vain. Simone Gramling, Sophia Woehl, Mason Deal and Devon Siu-Spaziani are hands down the best rigger crew we’ve seen in years, Sir.
 
Although Swifty proved to be unworthy of the Balclutha, his efforts with the Boat Crew shall not go unnoticed. Ably led by Mate Emily, Swifty ran through all the tasks to fit them for a fine Boat Crew. Eamonn Likens, Thanea Bobis, Nina Mayne and Emil Olsen certainly won their certification for their whole-hearted attitude to their tasks.
 
Finally, under the lovely hand of our Miss Onion Peel, the Stevedore Crew, headed by Mate Eleanor, not only thoroughly cleaned our decks, but prepared sumptuous meals which were enjoyed by all. Commendations to Zoe Kapp, Owen McIntosh and Ethan Titley.
 
No successful crew certification would be reported without the quiet help of our Tall Sailors. Although at times they were a little mischievous, their steadfast patience, call of duty and stoic servitude should be commended. Tall Sailors Joby Deal, Kim Yoshii, Joel McIntosh, Dana Jonas and Gus Gramling are fine mates and are welcome back to the Balclutha anytime.
 
Sir, we owe Teacher Jeanne a great deal of gratitude for providing a competent crew for the Balclutha. As always, Sir, it is an honor to be your first mate.
 
By Historian Fentanes, on behalf of First Mate, Mr. Long