“I just didn’t even count the years,” Londonderry High School Music Director, Andy Soucy laughed. “They kind of snuck up on me!”
After 46 years of teaching at LHS, Soucy announced his plans to retire, much to the resounding disappointment of students, colleagues, parents and alumni.
Soucy began teaching in 1972 at the age of 21 when he was freshly graduated from Keene State College. During his 4 decades at LHS he has influenced and encouraged generations of students to follow their passions.
“Like many other former students who chose to make music a career, I find myself inspired still to this day by Mr. Soucy,” said 2008 LHS graduate, Laura Chicarello. “I now live in Texas and teach a large studio of over 50 private students, all of whom play my beloved instrument, the French horn.”
Chicarello went on to say that the thing that stuck with her most about Soucy was that he made every one of his hundreds of students feel included. “(he) remembered all of our names, celebrated our birthdays, and if we were lucky, he would even let us hang out in his office and have a nice conversation.” Chicarello recalled.
Sean Meagher, a fellow 2008 alumnus, recounted a significant interaction with the music teacher.
“Mr. Soucy stopped me in the hallway one day during my senior year,” Meagher said. “He asked me what my plans were for college. Before that moment, I had never considered college as an option. I didn’t think it was financially a possibility and didn’t consider myself smart enough or worthy enough to attend college. Mr. Soucy may not fully realize it but with that one question in a hallway he changed my life.”
Meagher recounted the story of his father’s unexpected death during his first year at Keene State College. He explained that Soucy had come to show his support at Meagher’s father’s funeral. After having received his Master’s in conducting, Meagher said that he’s, “…had the pleasure to call him my teacher, mentor, and even a colleague…I now go to work every day to share my passion in the hopes of illuminating and fostering the passions of others; whatever they may be.”
Meghan Yankowskas, LHS graduate of 2009, thanked Soucy for his support and encouragement through her time as his student.
“As I left LHS to start my journey as a music major and now as an Air Force musician, I brought the skills and enthusiasm for music that he fostered so well within me—and they have brought me some incredibly rewarding moments!” Yankowskas said, stating that Soucy was, “A fundamental person” during her time at LHS, and that her experiences in band trips and assignment of leadership roles in her section by Soucy were significant in keeping her motivated in her “Musical Journey.”
Soucy’s influence is not limited to his students, but to his students’ parents, as well.
“To this day, if he called me, I would do whatever he needed to do,” said Julie Lee, member of the Londonderry Friends of Music and FOM president from 2006-2008. “That’s the impact he has…because you know he’s dedicated to the music program, and the town.”
“I don’t think he realizes what he’s done for the town of Londonderry, and the kids,” said former Friends of Music secretary, Fiona Moran, remarking on how humble Soucy is. She recounted the story of Soucy’s 40th year, when a commemorative pin was made in his honor using pins that students had collected from various events they had been to with the marching band. However, when he was presented with it…
“He was mad!” Moran chuckled, adding that the last thing Soucy wants is the spotlight to be taken away from the students, as they are who have his undivided focus.
Soucy remarked that although he was going to miss being the one to conduct the students, helping them to learn and perform, he had confidence in those who would follow in his footsteps, regardless of the size of the shoes to fill.
“The good thing is that we have superb music staff at all levels,” Soucy said. “It’s a good feeling to know that I have good people around me, and continue to do the work.”
Assistant Marching Band Director, and Music Director hopeful Serge Beaulieu, mentioned that it would be an “anxious time” for him and Choir teacher, Danielle Loschiaco (nee Lucas). Beaulieu mentioned that the three of them have been working closely together for nearly 20 years, and although their dynamic would be shifting drastically, he was happy to see Soucy get time to enjoy himself and his family after his many years of dedicated service.
“It’s been great to be able to work with him,” Beaulieu said. “He allows me to sort of be creative with certain ideas I’ve had over the years…I’ve done a lot of things that have changed the program, and he’s been supportive of all of that.”
Loschiaco echoed those sentiments on the change in dynamic, as her 17 years working under Soucy at Londonderry High have been the only teaching environment she has known.
“I think the reason he’s touched so many lives is not just for his teaching ability, but from who he is as a person,” Loschiaco said. “He’s genuine, honest, good…just a class act, truly.”
Heartfelt thank-you messages have flooded in to commemorate Soucy’s years of service, and a Facebook page, “Thank you Mr. Soucy” has been created in his honor, with alumni, students, Friends Of Music members, and all who have known Soucy leaving messages of thanks to the Music Director.
After fondly describing his memories of traveling far and wide for events from Rose Bowl parades to Presidential Inaugurations, and expressing the pride he has for his students, Soucy had one parting message:
“Remember how important music is in society and in schools.” said Soucy, adding how he’s seen music programs take insecure freshmen and make them confident seniors vying for leadership positions, advocating for the power of music to transform for the better.
After his last day as Music Director, Soucy said that aside from dabbling in music composition, he will still be at Londonderry High School every day, as his wife is a teacher there, and his daughter is currently a student. According to Loschiaco, he will also be serving as a board member for the Friends of Music.
“People are going to see me every day,” Soucy laughed, “And they’ll say, ‘I thought you retired!’”
Those who would like to share their thanks with Andy Soucy may visit Facebook.com and search the group, “Thank you Mr. Soucy.” Those with children involved with music in the school who would like to support the music program, and individuals and businesses interested in learning about sponsoring the LHS Marching Lancers may visit www.lancermusic.org.