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Hall of fame honors Sycamore musical alumni

Getting deserving alumni recognized and more involved with the school. Those are the main reasons principal Tim Carlson wanted to establish a music hall of fame at Sycamore High School.

“We are trying to focus on bringing our alumni back to the school,” Carlson said in a news release. “We have always had a great music program and have had a lot of people go out and do great things in the world. They are all over the country and the world.”

Earlier this month, three SHS alumni – Jeffrey Hepker, Kirk Lundbeck and Ann Montzka-Smelser – were the first class inducted into the school’s music hall of fame.

“I am beyond honored,” Montzka-Smelser said. “It’s a huge honor. I didn’t know it existed.”

“This is certainly a real honor,” Lundbeck agreed. “This is kind of an affirmation that all the work I put in hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Trombonist Lundbeck has performed for a number of bands, including the Chicago Symphony. Last summer, the 1976 SHS graduate was named the conductor of the DeKalb Municipal Band, with which he has performed for more than 30 years.

A 1981 alumna, Montzka-Smelser is the second violinist with Camerata Chicago and concertmaster of the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra. A resident of DeKalb, she has taught Suzuki pedagogy at Wheaton College and Northern Illinois University.

Hepker, a 1992 graduate, is a composer who has written music for film, TV, theatrical trailers, the stage and the concert hall.

Ken Olson, president of the SHS Music Boosters, said his group has been interested in starting a hall of fame for many years, but it wasn’t until Carlson proposed it two years ago that it really took shape.

“He offered to support the concept and provide space in the high school to create a music hall of fame trophy case,” Olson said in the release. “Once Madelyn Anderson, a long-time music boosters member, got involved, the idea began to take shape.”

The trophy case is located across from the entrance to the school auditorium. Carlson, who said some lockers were replaced to make room for the trophy case, is hoping it will be an inspiration to current and future students. He’s also hoping to establish a connection where past students can help current and future ones with their careers.

“It’s great that we educate kids, but I think we can help them a lot more if we can help them connect with those who have been successful,” Carlson said in the release. “We’re connecting Spartans with Spartans.”

In the future, Olson is hoping to induct three or four new members every year, not only honoring successful musicians but music students who became successful in other fields, as well as advocates and supporters of the music program.

Carlson is hopeful the music hall of fame can have its own weekend like the SHS sports hall of fame, in which new inductees are introduced at halftime of a home football game, then treated to a ceremonial dinner the next night.

This summer, Carlson also is hoping to develop a distinguished alumni award for those not involved in athletics or music.

“Once a Spartan, a Spartan forever,” he said.

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