It was symbolic to the 1995 movie, "Mr. Holland's Opus" at First Baptist Church of London on Thursday evening, as past and present band students and parents gathered to honor retiring band director, Mark Sizemore.

Rather than the honorary dinner that he was expecting, Sizemore was honored with a special musical performance by some of his past and present students as well as other musicians joining in. Those included long-time music educator Jack Walker, NLHS band director Priscilla Wilkerson, University of the Cumberlands music educator and musician David Threkkeld, music educator James Adams and attorney and musician Bridget Dunaway - all of whom are also members of the London Community Orchestra.

The musical repertoire included five songs, with "Precious Lord, Take my Hand" and winding down with selections from "The Greatest Showman."

Sizemore is a native Laurel Countian who has lead the SLHS Cardinal Marching Band to levels never reached before in county history. While achieving numerous accolades for their marching, concert and symphonic competitions, Sizemore's troupe set county history by competing in state marching band finals in the 2017 season. This past year, the SLHS Marching Band earned top honors in state finals and were awarded the championship title in the Class 4-A division.

While students and band supporters expressed their best wishes for Sizemore's retirement, all expressed their sadness at seeing him leave the position he has held for over the past decade. Sizemore, however, said his retirement is not the end of his musical experience or involvement with local music programs.

"I'll be around," he said.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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