Spencer Middle School’s award winning music programs


WorldStrides OnStage is an international music and dance festival for students.

Since 2003, music students at Spencer Middle School in the Sooke School District have performed at the festival, returning with numerous Gold, Silver and Spirit Awards from the organization, thanks to one dedicated and inspiring teacher, Spencer’s Music Director Duey Wright.

Jen Nixon is the acting principal at the Langford school and said that more than half of the students are participating in some form of music this year  ? more than 400 of the 773 students.

All of the music students and their various programs are overseen by Wright.

“I think with Duey there’s no such thing as a life-work balance” sayid Nixon. “Because she lives and breathes what she loves, which is teaching kids ? inspiring kids to love music.”

Wright agreed with that statement.

“It’s a love,” she said. “It’s an absolute love. I mean… there’s days…” she added with a smile “Don’t get me wrong, there’s days!”

The students were unanimous in their praise for both “Duey” (she insists all her students call her by her first name), and the variety of music programs offered at Spencer.

“I am so glad to have her as my teacher. I wouldn’t want any other music teacher,” said grade 8 student Zachary Littlejohn.

“Duey always makes sure that we are a team, and we are all included. She’s such a good teacher” said Katie Thompson, also in grade 8.

“I love this program so much” added Anya Ralph, another grade 8 student. “Being able to have fun, and enjoy myself, and be a team, and a family is really cool.”

That insistence on inclusiveness is something Wright said she learned from a very young age.

“Always been inclusive. My mum taught me that growing up. Everybody’s included. Doesn’t matter what ‘uniqueness’ you have. For example, we have a couple of students who are deaf ? awesome percussionists!”

Since 2003, Wright’s students have competed in the international WorldStrides OnStage festival.

“They get to meet other [students] from all around the world, get to see different standards, different groups,” said Wright.

And while through the years they’ve returned with numerous awards, Wright says that’s not the impetus for their participation.

“It’s never been a priority. We go there to have fun, and so I can show them off,” she said. How incredibly proud I am of them ? what they’ve accomplished. The awards are great, absolutely, but I take that pressure off. And [if] they do win the awards, it’s awesome. Absolutely awesome. But it’s not our priority.”

Wright also teaches her students to always think of others.

“It’s a benefit concert we perform every February, and we raise money for children and families affected by leukemia in our area. We just did our 18th year, and we just hit a quarter of a million dollars. It’s a two-hour percussion concert ? nothing but percussion ? and the kids have a lot of fun. We had about 300 on stage this time around.”

Wright believes that over the years they’ve helped around 20 local families.

She is one teacher, inspiring hundreds of students year after year, to find their passion in music.

“These kids are changing the world for the better, and it’s through music that they’re doing that,” says Nixon proudly.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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