VIDEO: Decades of students give music teacher theatrical farewell

Belmont theatre students surprised Jamie Thomas with a memorable performance

The covert operation began with a Facebook page called “Mr. T’s final curtain call.”

In just a few weeks, the group had accumulated 335 members willing to participate in the farewell stunt.

The target? Belmont Elementary School’s music teacher, Jamie Thomas.

Thomas had been an educator for 38 years, spending 29 of them in the Langley School District.

Admired by his students for the elaborate musical productions during his time at Belmont, this month’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would be the last of Thomas’s career.

Parkinson’s disease has forced the 60-year-old teacher to leave his job at the end of the school year, casting him into a full time neurological fight that has already taken away his ability to play music.

“I know my body’s going to slowly deteriorate,” said Thomas, “but I’m going to fight it as long as I can.”

Read More: Teacher’s departure marks end of an era at Langley school

There would be no way co-worker and fellow teacher Rachelle Beaulieu was going to let Thomas leave without a proper sendoff. Beaulieu was the mastermind behind the Facebook group and what “Mr. T’s final curtain call” grew into.

“A couple months ago, I started a Facebook group saying they wanted to do this,” Beaulieu explained.” I just put the small the little group out there and let social media do its thing.”

Over 200 students from Thomas’s 14 musical productions showed up at the Belmont playground during the final performance last Saturday – ready to send off their theatre teacher in the most dramatic fashion possible.

“The reception started at school yard,” Beaulieu recounted. “After the play wrapped and Jamie [Thomas] came up on stage to give his thank-you’s, we cut the mic and the actor playing Joseph yelled “guards, seize him!” Then the cast sat him down on a throne which was part of the set.”

Music from last year’s production, Oliver Twist, started to blare over the speakers. In came the former cast, singing the show’s signature song “Consider Yourself” as they took over the stage.

The 2017 cast of Seussical stormed in next, signifying this would be nothing short of a massive parade.

From Pete’s Dragon to Mary Poppins, familiar faces wanting to wish their teacher well, filled the gym to put on a completely new production just for Thomas.

“Students came in carrying signs to say what production they were from – some even had costumes,” said Beaulieu. “There were reps from all 14 musicals Jamie [Thomas] had been a part of over the years.”

By the time everyone packed inside, the stage was overflowing with dancing students going as far back as Thomas’s first production, Trial of the Big Bad Wolf in 1991.

Together in a chorus, the group of former thespians sang an original song with lyrics thanking Thomas for the memories and all he had done for them during his career.

“It just seems surreal,” said Thomas. “I feel like I’m a hardworking teacher, but I’m not extraordinary. I’m at a loss for words about it. I’m completely humbled and confused on why I was deserving of this.”

On whether or not Thomas had any idea, Beaulieu said “he is such a humble person. I think he suspected something but nothing of this magnitude.”

Thomas and his wife, Wendy, moved to Chilliwack several months ago, where he hopes to do substitute teaching there or possibly even in the Langley district in the future.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Just Posted

B.C.’s health, addictions ministers to announce changes to recovery-house rules

Safety, quality of care targeted; South Surrey parent whose son overdosed ‘curious’ about amendments

Surrey school district unveils its first rainbow crosswalk

Superintendent Jordan Tinney says colour crossing ‘a statement that everyone is welcome in Surrey’

Date set for complete closure of North Surrey Recreation Centre

Users will be directed to programs and services within a four-kilometre radius of the site

Comedy is King as Surrey theatre company stages benefit show for youth mentorship program

‘All in Good Fund’ comedy night to feature Simon King at Cloverdale’s Elements Casino

Teacher disciplined after bringing 45 grams of cannabis to Surrey school

Eugenio Bahamonde was also charged with trafficking in Vancouver, but later acquitted

VIDEO: Title of 25th Bond movie is ‘No Time to Die’

The film is set to be released in April 2020

‘Unsubstantiated’ bomb threat against CP Rail in Revelstoke

On Aug. 18, a bomb threat was made against CP Rail in Revelstoke

Victoria father charged with double murder of his daughters takes the stand

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

New ‘Matrix’ film set with Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski

Fourth installment to feature Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

Catholic church buys $7.5M equestrian facility in B.C., plans ‘agri-retreat’ centre

Church hopes to grow crops, host students and others on Bradner property

New regulations require training for B.C. addiction recovery homes

Inspections, standards replace ‘wild west,’ Judy Darcy says

Downtown Langley becomes a Saturday smorgasbord

Nineteen local restaurants participate in annual Fork and Finger sampling event

Most Read