Canyon Echoes

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Mr. Piwetz Retires

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Retiring is a complicated story. It is a part of one’s life that is filled with both sadness and happiness. We witness many significant events such as this throughout our lives, and we are witnessing such an occasion this year. As many students already know, Mr.Piwetz, the head band director at Canyon Vista, is cherishing his last few months at school.

33 years ago, Piwetz started his first year of teaching. During this time he spent numerous hours working with individuals and groups of students before and after school so they could play music to the best of their ability. He shared his knowledge about the history of music and the secrets to playing instruments, and his students admired him constantly. Decades later, Piwetz has realized this season is coming to a close.

When Piwetz shared his story about why he has chosen to retire, he recalled back to the time when he asked his father-in-law for his wife’s hand in marriage.

“He asked me why I should be allowed to marry his daughter. He said that if I was going to be a teacher I would be poor as a church mouse,” Piwetz said. “It pretty much summed up his outlook on qualifications for marriage to his daughter.

“25 or so years later, he went to Australia with my mother-in-law, bought a motorcycle, and spent several months travelling down under. When he returned, we were talking, and he told me that in all his time there, he was never asked what he did for a living. People asked where he was from and about his family, but no one cared about his job. He told me that in Australia, people would decide where they wanted to raise their family, and then look for a job there.  

“In America, it is generally the opposite. People find a job and then move their family there. He told me that in Australia, people look at a job as a way to pay for their family, but the family is still the focus. Too often in America, we work our family in around our job.  

“I have done exactly that for 33 years. I have worked my wife and kids in around my job. I love my job more than I can say, but for me it is time to focus on family.”

Zenith J. is one of the many sixth graders that will miss Mr. Piwetz. “It’s going to be really hard to find another substitute for him. He’s unique,” Zenith said. “Humor is what I’ll remember most.”

What else about Piwetz makes him so memorable? Zenith answered with a smile, “The first thing I noticed was the mustache.”

Although Piwetz is leaving Canyon Vista with a somber heart, he has the joy of leaving behind the many tiring duties of an educator, such as “grades, standardized testing, or any of the other million administrivia tasks that go along with being a teacher,” Piwetz said. “[But] I will miss the kids and my colleagues more than I can say.”

Piwetz’s wife is also retiring after 34 years of teaching. Piwetz plans to tour the Northern United States with his wife so they can see a “real autumn,” and catch up on hobbies and projects he never quite got to complete.  He plans to take motorcycle tours of the country, play golf, kayak, spend some serious time kayak fishing on the coast, play tennis, and actually practice his trombone.

“That is just a start. I still have 33 years of things to do around the house- to put it the way we want it. In addition, I have a 1981 Bronco off road vehicle, a 1977 Goldwing motorcycle, a 1967 Cougar XR-7, and a 1940’s vintage Farmall tractor, my grandfather’s, to rebuild and restore. When I am done with that I will be able to spend time making furniture, woodworking.”

When asked if he would like to thank anyone that has been a part of his career, he replied with two people.

The first is his former band director, Ralph ‘Skip’ Hyatt. “He was lean and rawboned, always wore the same outfit (white shirt, black pants, black shoes, black tie), and almost never smiled. He was the perfect Drill Instructor. He was demanding and gruff, and I was terrified of him when I met him in the 6th grade. I was lucky enough to have him as a band director all the way through my 11th grade year, and I grew to worship him. He demanded the very best of us and gave only the very best of himself. As I got older, I realized that the gruff exterior was actually a front for a hilarious and dry sense of humor. His influence made me choose to become a band director.

“The second person will probably surprise many. I spent the first 20 years of my teaching career being the best director I knew how, but I was really just teaching notes and rhythms. When Mrs. Ward came to Canyon Vista, she brought an insight into being musical that I really had never been exposed to. She managed to convey the idea that music had to mean something to both performer and listener, or the musician was just going through the motions. I think that her vocal background had a lot to do with it, but for whatever reason it made me look at what I was doing in a different light. That insight has changed the way I teach, and has been a huge factor in the way I look at teaching music.”

For Piwetz, retiring is, “the beginning of an opportunity to devote my life to my family which I haven’t for the last 35 years. When my sons were young, I never had enough time to spend with them. I was always too busy working. By the time I realized the error of my ways it was almost too late. They were well on their way to being grown.”

If family is the powerful force that is the cause of togetherness and the union of people, it is no wonder that Mr. Piwetz made this bold decision. Family brings people together in the spirit of joy, happiness, and love. Canyon Vista is extremely grateful for the investment Mr. Piwetz has made in our family. His hard work and dedication will always be remembered by our mustangs.

Click to enlarge. A special note to all of the band students. Mr. Piwetz would like to say, “Thank you!”

Click to enlarge. A special note to all of the band students. Mr. Piwetz would like to say, “Thank you!”

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