Taking a final bow

By Dick Mason, The Observer March 21, 2014 10:10 am

La Grande School District music specialist Carla Varland directs applause to Island City Elementary students during their musical program “At the Bandstand” Wednesday. The program was the last for Varland, who will be retiring at the end of this school year, her 16th with the La Grande School District. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
La Grande School District music specialist Carla Varland directs applause to Island City Elementary students during their musical program “At the Bandstand” Wednesday. The program was the last for Varland, who will be retiring at the end of this school year, her 16th with the La Grande School District. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
 

Island City Elementary School music teacher Carla Varland led the final school concert of her career, directing Island City Elementary’s annual spring program Wednesday. The school’s fourth- and fifth-graders performed eight songs, all from the 1950s and 1960s for a program titled “At the Bandstand.’’

The concert is one of countless ones Varland has directed at schools since joining the La Grande School District in 1998. Varland, who also teaches music at Greenwood Elementary, tried hard not to let her feelings of sentimentality get the best of her. Varland said she did so by trying not to focus on how this was her final student concert. 

She was pleased with how her students performed.

“They did well, I was proud of them,” said Varland, who will retire at the end of the school year.

Varland, who is completing her 30th year as a teacher, was recognized in 2004 as the Walmart teacher of the year for Union, Wallowa and Baker counties. Island City Elementary Principal John Tolan credits Varland’s success in part to her passion for what she does.

“It is her enthusiasm for music and her enthusiasm for seeing kids excel,” Tolan said.